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Kingston Board of Health member Dan Sapir proposes special turbine counsel

KINGSTON – While Dan Sapir was the only Board of Health member in Room 203 at the Town House Nov. 14, he was joined by at least 30 residents upset by the impact wind turbines are having on their lives.

Sapir scheduled the now unofficial meeting to discuss hiring special counsel to represent the town’s interests and explore remediation options in response to citizen complaints. The Board of Selectmen would have to approve the hiring of special counsel.

“You don’t feel our pain. You don’t stay up every night.”

At the last board meeting, Nov. 5, the Board of Health voted to invite Town Counsel Jay Talerman to meet with the board to discuss its options. That meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 28.

However, in a communication to Health Agent Henny Walters, copied to Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna and others, Talerman raised doubts in Sapir’s mind about his ability to advise the board. Sapir scheduled the meeting himself.

Talerman said he can attend the meeting, and he is still scheduled to do so, to discuss the turbine, but cannot advise the board because he has represented the Board of Selectmen relative to the Independence turbine on the town’s capped landfill.

“Indeed, I cannot give any legal advice to the BOH at all,” he wrote. “Rather, anything I can say at the meeting would be on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.”

Sapir said special counsel is needed to adequately represent the Board of Health. He also thinks Casna should recuse himself because Casna also serves on the Board of Selectmen.

“The chair is part of the mechanism that brought you the turbines,” Sapir said.

Casna has consulted with town counsel about a possible conflict. He said Talerman advised him he sees no conflict. Casna said he will listen to the professionals in cases like this.

“I don’t see any conflict of any kind,” he said.

At his meeting, Sapir encouraged concerned residents to return Nov. 28. Casna agreed that Nov. 28 is the time for discussion. He said the board needs to continue to follow the process for responding to complaints and should respond on an orderly basis.

Sapir and Casna will represent the board in discussions with representatives from the quasi-public Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which will be conducting a sound study in response to wind turbine complaints from neighbors.

Neighbors support Sapir’s proposal for the hiring of special counsel. Residents like Doreen Reilly were disappointed by the absence of other board members. She took issue with Green Energy Committee member and former Selectman Mark Beaton suggesting that they wait for the facts to come out as a result of the sound study.

“You don’t feel our pain,” Reilly said. “You don’t stay up every night.”