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Windwise to petition for public hearing on turbine woes

FAIRHAVEN – Members of the turbine-opposition group Windwise have started a petition asking the Board of Health to hold a public hearing for residents to talk about their experiences with the turbines.

“We the citizens of Fairhaven petition the Fairhaven Board of Health to hold a public hearing that would allow the citizens of Fairhaven who are being impacted from the operation of the two industrial turbines to be allowed the opportunity to speak,” the petition states.

Windwise spokesman Kenneth Pottel said the group has been advocating for a public hearing since the turbines became operational in May.

Originally, the purpose of such a hearing was to encourage the Board of Health to bring in the state Department of Environmental Protection to test whether the two turbines were louder than state noise regulations.

The Board of Health did so in June, and the DEP’s sound test is ongoing.

Now, Pottel said, his group wants to raise awareness about “what people and their families are going through.”

Board member Barbara Acksen said she thinks a public hearing is “a good idea to give people the opportunity to explain what their concerns are.”

Board Chairman Peter DeTerra said he hadn’t heard about the petition and encouraged Windwise members to patiently wait for the DEP testing results.

Windwise has long contended that in addition to being loud, the sound caused by the turbines that is inaudible to humans can have severe impacts on human health, from migraine headaches to high blood pressure to vertigo.

Windwise members feeling symptoms have submitted complaints to the Board of Health’s online complaint form, Pottel said. Those complaints are sent to the DEP but are not made public.

“The DEP testing could drag on for a long time,” he said. “We want our fellow community members to understand what people are going through.”

Pottel added that with the beginning of fall comes stronger winds and more complaints about the turbines.

“It’s only getting worse,” he said.

Pottel said the organization hopes to get “a few hundred” signatures on the petition before presenting it to the Board of Health.