FAIRHAVEN – The School Committee will review health studies on wind turbines, Chairman Pamela Kuechler said Tuesday.
Ms. Kuechler said School Committee members made the decision at the end of last week’s meeting, after some turbine opponents had left. She said that’s when committee members generally make comments on subjects that are not on the agenda.
Earlier in the evening, during the public comment period, several residents asked the committee to consider the health risks posed by two 1.5 megawatt turbines to be built off Arsene Street. The turbines will be built on town-owned land near the Department of Public Works.
Opponents said the turbines will be close enough to the new elementary planned for the Wood School site to warrant study of their potential health risks.
Ms. Kuechler said that at the end of the meeting, “A couple of the members said they thought it is a good idea to look at the information.”
Since then, she said, “We’re all in the process of individually looking at that.”
Ms. Kuechler said they would be interested in any information about potential health risks that are presented at Board of Health meetings or a meeting the Board of Selectmen has promised to hold.
“We’re going to have to see how they progress,” she said.
Ms. Kuechler described the turbine project as “unrelated” to the new school project. “It’s not a school project,” she said of the turbines, as for what town board has been making the decisions. “They are not tied together in any way.”
Ms. Kuechler said, however, “We will continue to look at it further and if it needs to come up at a future meeting with the School Building Committee or School Committee, it will.”
Asked if health risks could convince either committee to revisit the location for a new school, she said, “I don’t know where the MSBA (Massachusetts School Building Authority) would stand on that. It’s obviously something we’d have to work with the state on.”
She added, however, that even considering a change in location is premature. “I can’t say definitively one way or the other, to say what would be a course of action.”
Ms. Kuechler disagreed with any characterization of the School Committee’s response to the public comments as being nonresponsive or stonewalling the public. She said the committee considers the end of the meeting its version of the public comment period on the agenda.
“They weren’t stonewalled,” she said. “They all had a chance to speak.”
She said residents are limited to three minutes each so the School Committee can proceed with its agenda.
“We had a full agenda,” Ms. Kuechler said.
The proposal to build a new elementary at the Wood School site passed in a townwide election in November. Opponents say the vote might have been different if residents had known about the wind turbines.
According to Jeffrey W. Osuch, the town’s executive secretary, the turbines are more than 2,000 feet from the Wood School.
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