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E-mail not meant to express reservations about wind, Fairhaven selectman says

FAIRHAVEN – Emails exchanged between a Fairhaven selectman and Falmouth resident show the Fairhaven official wondering if the town’s two wind turbines might need to be moved farther from residential properties.

Selectman Charles Murphy implied the turbine project might still be stopped in a Dec. 15 email to Annie Hart Cool of Falmouth and also questioned whether proposed setbacks need to be increased.

“Yes, we have a contract and, yes, we have signed it and, yes, the turbines are on their way … but nothing is impossible. I know it is a distance but we are planning an open forum. … Would you be able to come in January? Maybe the setback needs to be farther away from any people it may affect?” wrote Murphy.

Cool is the wife of Mark Cool, the air traffic controller who has opposed Falmouth’s turbines and complained of pressure headaches from them. She and Murphy know each other through rotary organizations, Murphy said.

Copies of the emails, edited to take out Annie Hart Cool’s name, email and reference to rotary, were sent to The Standard-Times by Mark Cool. But while the content could not be confirmed, Murphy did not dispute it.

Annie Hart Cool did not return a call seeking comment. Mark Cool was traveling outside of the country and could not talk.

Asked about the email, Murphy said his comment wasn’t meant to express reservations. “When I was saying all that, I was still doing a lot of my research,” he said. “There are a lot of different conditions that are happening (in Falmouth) that are not going to be happening here.”

With regard to increased setbacks, Murphy said he was referring to a state debate about proper setbacks.

“I had heard about it and that’s why I was questioning it,” he said.

Murphy said he has since resolved any doubts he had and supports the turbines and current setbacks.

“I’m comfortable (with the setbacks) because that is where the most data has been and they’ve done the most research,” he said, referring to the noise study. “That’s where the data has come from.”

However, he added that if health problems arise after the turbines begin operation, he will support necessary changes.

“I just feel that if the turbines go up and they are causing health problems to people, then the developer has a responsibility to that,” he said. “I’m open minded to things that if things start to happen, I want to make sure developers take responsibility.”

Murphy said his December email conversation with Annie Hart Cool resumed Friday night but, after her comments became “heated,” he asked her to stop emailing him. He described Cool’s February emails as disheartening and said they described him as drinking snake oil.

“She said shame on the select board and God bless me for the lives I will ruin,” he said.