[Note: The Sementillis moved away from the Fairfield area in 2009.]
FAIRFIELD – If wind turbines are built in this northeastern Herkimer County town, one family may be forced to move.
Lisa Sementilli’s 11-year-old daughter Alisha has central auditory processing disorder, which means Alisha hears fine but can’t concentrate when she is around background noise.
Doctors have suggested that Alisha live at least one-and-a-half miles from any wind turbine, but Hard Scrabble Wind Farm towers planned in Fairfield would be less than half a mile away, Lisa Sementilli said.
“If they come, I have to move,” she said. “I’m not going to put my daughter in any harm.”
Project developer PPM Energy, the county and the town have yet to offer her any solutions, Lisa Sementilli said, and PPM Energy representatives never showed up for any scheduled meetings.
But Bill Moore, a director of development for PPM Energy, said no meetings were scheduled, and an e-mail from PPM Energy about setting up a meeting hasn’t been returned.
Engineering plans that will provide a detailed map of where wind turbines will be placed is near completion, so meeting with Sementilli to discuss the situation wouldn’t have accomplished much anyway until the turbine plan was complete, Moore said.
Moore hopes to meet with Sementilli sometime soon, he said.
The nearest turbine will be more than 2,000 feet, or about .38 miles, from Sementilli’s home. From a distance of about 750 to 1,000 feet, or from about .14 to .19 miles, a wind turbine sounds similar to a kitchen refrigerator, Moore said.
The maximum decibel level a turbine reaches is 50 decibels, which Department of Environmental Conservation guidelines consider quiet, he said.
If desired by Sementilli, PPM Energy might be willing to bring in a third party to evaluate the noise situation, he said.
“It’s worth considering so that what we’re telling them could be confirmed by third-party experts,” he said.
In the meantime, Lisa Sementilli remains concerned, and Alisha feels upset and scared and doesn’t want to move, Lisa Sementilli said.
If they move, Lisa Sementilli’s five children might have to be uprooted from the West Canada Valley School District, she said.
In school, Alisha has been making progress. She wears headphones, so teachers can speak directly into her ears, works with an audio trainer and takes tests in a separate room, Lisa Sementilli said.
It’s difficult for Alisha to understand conversation when there is background noise, and the noise sometimes throws off her balance, Lisa Sementilli said.
The family lives on the same land on which Lisa Sementilli’s great-grandfather lived. Her mother and sister live on the same road, and her mother often baby-sits for her, she said.
“My whole family lives on this road,” she said. “We all live next to each other to help each other.”
Andy McEvoy, a Little Falls resident and co-director of the Fairfield Concerned Citizens organization, owns land in Fairfield near where turbines would be built and has worked for Alisha’s cause.
“The girl’s scared,” McEvoy said. “She’s torn apart by it. No 11-year-old should have to go through that kind of suffering over something like this.”
The Fairfield Concerned Citizens group has conducted direct mailings about Alisha and has received much support, he said.
“We’re not against wind power in general so long as it’s done in the right location, where it wouldn’t bring any problems to somebody’s health,” he said.
By Bryon Ackerman
8 March 2007
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