Could members of the Fairhaven Board of Selectmen truly be ignorant of the repercussions of locating wind turbines in neighborhoods? Watching their lack of civility and professionalism as the Dec. 12 board meeting deteriorated into a shouting match with the audience, there is that reality.
They left the impression that not only did they not understand the grave situation they were placing their residents in, but they had little, if no, inclination to do so.
These residents include children who would be attending Wood School, subjected to a jeopardized education in an environment where the noise of the turbines could well penetrate the walls of their classrooms.
Perhaps Fairhaven’s selectmen and other officials believe that all the turbine project requires is technical and logistical expertise?
Where was the Fairhaven Board of Health throughout the progress of the project, and was their input solicited?
Town boards of health sometimes appear on the scene after the fact, when the town is well on its way to contract signing or actual construction, giving the appearance that it had no interest in consulting with its health board.
Where was the Fairhaven School Committee? Who championed the children? The selectmen do not appear attentive to their parents’ fears. Who will be their voice?
Unless a town informs them, its boards might be unaware a project significantly detrimental to its residents is being contemplated, let alone on its way to fruition. In Fairhaven’s case, it was the return of the turbine project that both residents and boards thought had been dropped years ago.
Now, both the Fairhaven Board of Health and School Committee are involved, because neighborhood opposition to the turbines demanded their attention.
Selectmen should have automatically instructed both to begin addressing health and safety issues from the outset. The selectmen, Board of Health and School Committee are all responsible and obligated to serve the residents, in their respective capacities, and the turbine project required the collaboration of all three.
But when resident opposition to the turbines did arise, Fairhaven, like Dartmouth, fell back on the excuse that since Town Meeting voted on the project years ago, residents all knew about it and should not be surprised that the project was going forward.
Are all officials in agreement with Selectman Brian Bowcock’s adamant assertion that claims of adverse health effects are “unsubstantiated”? Hopefully, he did not base his opinion solely on information from individuals in the wind turbine industry, because it stands to reason he would get an answer favoring them.
Did everyone believe that all the documentation and interviews were faked, scams to put the wind turbine industry out of business?
Or were they all so taken in by promises of profit that all humanitarian consideration of their town’s residents, including conducting an in-depth, open-minded investigation into adverse health effects, dissolved, and adults and children became sacrificial lambs in the name of profit?
Dartmouth abandoned its project in favor of solar power, but not because health concerns were of paramount importance in its decision to do so.
To its credit, Westport’s own Energy Committee declared the original site of its proposed turbines to be unproductive for small turbines and a health risk to neighbors if commercial-size turbines were sited, and recommended dropping the project at that location. They placed people over profit.
Turbines looming over nearby Beech Grove Cemetery and St. John the Baptist Church reflected residents’ concerns over visual damage to the landscape, and were likewise taken into consideration.
Fairhaven’s turbine project continues onward. Selectmen appear to have positioned themselves as the superior authority in determining the consequences to residents’ health and welfare. The involvement of the Board of Health and School Committee now necessitates emphatically addressing the human factor, which appears to be sorely lacking.
Beverly Days lives in South Dartmouth.