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Board of Health to form subcommittee to develop turbine impact regulations

DARTMOUTH – Perplexed by the amount of information concerning the quality of life issues surrounding wind turbines, Board of Health members continued to discuss the health regulations for commercial wind turbines at their Nov. 16 meeting.

“I have been looking at the regulations from a couple of different communities… It sounds like each town makes their regulations according to their project. I am willing to take some of these regulations and put an outline together on what the issues are,” said Board of Health member Thomas Hardman.

Mr. Hardman noted that Select Board member William Trimble had sent e-mails concerning the Vinalhaven wind project, and several more e-mails about information concerning the impacts of noise on health. “There is good information out there. There are a lot of wind turbines in Europe, but not in populated areas,” he commented.

The Board of Health is charged with trying to evaluate the impact of turbines on neighbors. Chairperson Dr. Gail Davidson suggested sponsoring an anonymous survey with students from UMass Dartmouth who “could take the results within a radius of two miles of a wind turbine, and see who says what,” she suggested.

Approximately 20 citizens from Dartmouth Citizens for Responsible Energy (DCRE) attended the meeting. Rosanne O’Connell sent Ms. Henderson a letter referring to Massachusetts Bill 1757, which proposes a 3,000 foot setback from homes in a residential district.

“I just want to make you aware of the bill. I am going to call our representative, Chris Markey, about it,” she noted.

Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Bridget Earle noted there are many different factors such as the location and the manufacturer of the wind turbine to be considered when surveying. “There are so many variables such as wind direction and the ‘K’ factor,” she remarked.

The Wiebull K factor is a measurement of the consistency of the wind for a selected location; a consistent wind is best and rates a three, a poor consistency rates a one.

Ms. Earle said she thought Bristol Community College had done a feasibility study for a proposed wind turbine at a site next to Rt. 24, and were concerned about the noise levels.

With a quantity of helpful information in hand, Health Board Vice Chairperson Lynne Brodeur suggested forming a subcommittee to study proposed regulations. “Certainly within the group you have experts. Looking at the trend in regulations, people are looking at regulations that keep turbines moving further away from residents,” she noted.

Smith Neck Road resident Lyanne Pryor, who lives next to the Kirby farm where a proposed wind turbine would be sited, said she is very concerned about the health issues.

She referred to a recent New York Times article which noted there are massive amounts of money being funneled in alternative energy. “Everyone is rushing in at the expense of those people who are close to the turbines. I appreciated your scrutiny of the work,” she said.

The board will continue their work on the regulations at future meetings. Mr. Hardman suggested visiting the wind turbines projects in Portsmouth and Falmouth to collect first-hand impressions of potential impacts.

In other business,Ms. Henderson reported the recent flu clinics were successful, with 55 vaccinations given to residents. “We still have vaccine left and will have other clinics,” she noted.

SITEC engineer Steven Gioiosa presented plans for an upgrade of auto sales and repair business owned by Manny Sarmento on Route 6 on land near Wal-Mart. The business would be within the Aquifer Protection District and is currently being used as an auto sales facility, he explained.

Mr. Sarmento would like to shut one business down and move it across Rt. 6 and upgrade his facility. He would only repair vehicles he would be selling. Board members gave their recommendation for the plan, seeing it as an improvement over the current operation.