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Continue to shine light on Fairhaven turbine process

The question was mainly rhetorical. We all knew the answer. Why would Executive Secretary to the selectmen Jeff Osuch, selectmen Chairman Brain Bowcock and developer Gordon Deane notify the neighbors about their new Chinese turbine project when an older version of the plan had met intense resistance?

I think it was the first question Bob Unger posed at our recent meeting with The Standard-Times editorial board. Why would they stir the hornets nest? For them it made sense to keep things quiet, skate right up to the edge of the law; attempt to stay to the letter but never over into its spirit and purpose. A true democracy is just so messy and inefficient.

There are a lot of reasons why the neighbors’ abutters and the parents of children attending Wood School should have been fully informed about this project. Honesty, respect and decency should move those in positions of authority to understand decisions involving projects like this need to be arrived at in full light or they won’t work. If there is nothing to hide, why keep people in the dark? It’s not the right, or smart, thing to do.

Now after the rabble has been roused, the developer wants to hold a “forum” to tell us how great this project is. And developer Gordon Deane has said if he can’t convince you, he’ll sue you.

Nowhere in this state, if not the nation, are 400-foot wind turbines as close to people and impacting as many homes as these will. If sited, they will violate even the wind industry’s own minimal setback regulations. The EU requires a setback distance of 1.2 miles. I wonder if Gordon Deane has given any thought about putting his turbines behind his backyard. I’m sure his neighbors won’t mind, but then again he probably wouldn’t tell them.

You would think that anyone threatening to sue over this project would dot every “i” and cross every “t,” but one major oversight was not going through the Health Board to get an assigned location for his noisome trade. Mass. General Laws, Chapter 111, Section 143, mandates the Board of Health to act; to hold public hearings in regards to siting criteria; and then to provide a proper location for activities that can be classified as noisome. Or maybe Mr. Dean and his investors might want to get a valid building permit.

And as we’ve all read lately, there are no health issues. The state experts say so. But …

“The panel did not do original research, nor did it investigate reports of health problems among residents living near any particular turbine installation. Instead it reviewed existing studies.” – Boston Globe Staff, Jan. 17

And from Steve Urbon’s report in the Standard Times, Jan. 17, “What limited concern the survey team expressed centered on the effects of sleep deprivation. In a conference call with reporters, the team made it clear that while there is known risk associated with denial of sleep, it’s not clear that wind turbines are a cause.”

Not clear that wind turbines are a cause? And these guys are experts? Isn’t this report about turbine effects? I’m sure they won’t lose any sleep.

The state is desperate to site these things. They will say what they have to, or hire people to say it for them. The developer, Gordon Deane of Palmer Capital, stands to make a ton of money. What else would he say? The town wants the revenue. Jeff Osuch knows there are no problems. He’s a believer and Brian Bowcock believes Jeff Osuch. The others in Town Hall fall in line.

As we concluded the meeting with the editorial board, we spoke of maintaining the integrity of a process imbedded in law. Without it, we end up with money, power and ego pulling the strings. If a process of information gathering, consultation with the community and truthful discourse had been followed, this town wouldn’t be looking forward to the siting of two massive turbines in a place that violates even minimum setbacks. This project was never judged on its merits because the process was subverted to achieve a preconceived outcome.

The call by The Standard-Times for an investigation by the Attorney’s General Office is appreciated. It showed that an independent review committee, in this case The Standard-Times editorial board, after viewing the evidence we presented and listening to our position, saw if not an illegal project, a deeply flawed one. Sunday’s editorial cast a little light on dimly lit project.

We’ll keep shining a bright light and fighting the good fight.

Henry Ferreira lives in Fairhaven.