FAIRHAVEN – Construction on Fairhaven’s wind turbine project will continue on schedule after Town Meeting dismissed an attempt to stop the project.
On Wednesday, voters indefinitely postponed an article seeking to stop all turbine construction and terminate the town’s contract with developers by a 134-80 vote.
While most of the 60-plus-minute discussion prior to the vote came from project opponents, it didn’t seem to matter when the vote was eventually taken.
In a presentation for the project, developer Sumul Shaw tried to dispel myths about wind turbines, offering information on flicker effects, ice fling, fires and infrasound.
Shaw said that while there has been criticism suggesting property values decrease with the presence of wind turbines, there has been “no consistent, measurable and significant effect on home sale prices.”
Executive Secretary Jeffrey Osuch pointed out that in addition to its vote in support of the project, Town Meeting in 2007 rejected articles that would have studied the impact of wind turbines further or set additional regulations on them, including setback criteria.
About eight articles were indefinitely postponed, ruled out of order or failed to pass, according to Osuch.
In opposition to the project, Windwise supporter Bob Espindola gave a slide presentation of questions he believes have not yet been answered by the town.
Espindola, who is on the Fairhaven Sustainability Committee and is a candidate for selectman, said he lives 1,700 feet from the turbines and is concerned about the impact on his neighbors, particularly those who are elderly.
In his comments, he wondered why the town has not negotiated a shutdown of the turbines during the times that flicker will be in effect and also questioned the estimates of annual revenue from the energy to be produced.
Espindola also questioned if the town could generate enough energy with just a single turbine.
“How badly do we need the second turbine?” he asked, adding that he believes Fairhaven will be able to export at least 36 percent of turbine energy produced next year.
Finance Committee Chairman John Roderiques urged Town Meeting to vote on the article before them, not on other factors like the value or safety of the wind turbine project. This is an article to terminate the town contract and town counsel has said that Town Meeting does not have the authority to do that, he said, adding “I ask you to follow town counsel’s opinion.”
Before the wind article vote, voters also indefinitely postponed articles to impose term limits on elected officials and relax conditions for recalling them.
Selectman Michael Silvia spoke against both articles. Recalls, he said, should be a tool that is used very infrequently, for serious offenses like malfeasance of office or a crime.
It should also be something that the entire community can agree on, Silvia said, adding that if the community is sufficiently outraged it should be easy to get the required number of signatures.
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