November 30, 2012

Espindola wants to allow turbine opponents on agenda

By Peggy Aulisio, Editor | The Advocate | November 29, 2012 |

FAIRHAVEN – Selectman Robert Espindola pressured Select Board Chairman Brian Bowcock Monday to place Windwise on a future agenda.

Mr. Espindola mentioned Teal Circle resident Karen Isherwood, who came before selectmen during a break in a meeting several weeks ago.

At that meeting, Mr. Bowcock told her she couldn’t speak because she wasn’t on the agenda. When Ms. Isherwood said she’d been asking to be on the agenda for months, he told her the board was waiting for the results of a sound study by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Mr. Bowcock said when that’s completed, the turbines will be on the selectmen’s agenda and Windwise members will be able to speak.

On Monday, Mr. Espindola said it’s “not fair” to make a decision on whether the public can speak “based on waiting for the wind study to be done” when six months have passed and the study still hasn’t been completed.

“Let them be on the next agenda,” he said, adding that they could set a time limit of 15 minutes.

Mr. Espindola said agenda time for wind turbine opponents has been “submitted by myself and others” and that their requests “have been ignored.”

In response, Mr. Bowcock said Windwise members have been allowed to speak at meetings and public forums in the past. He said they “have crashed the meeting” and “interrupted” board business.

“They don’t follow proper decorum,” he said.

Mr. Bowcock said the Attorney General has ruled that “those kinds of interruptions are not to be allowed in meetings.” He said Windwise asked for a study to be done by the DEP and that DEP “has final testing to do.”

“A lot of Windwise people have come to meetings and voiced their concerns,” Mr. Bowcock said.

Of Ms. Isherwood, he said, “She came to a meeting a couple of weeks ago and the next night was on the radio.” Mr. Bowcock said she has also written letters to the editor that have been published in The Standard-Times.

“What more can we add?” he asked.

At the meeting several weeks ago, Ms. Isherwood asked Mr. Bowcock repeatedly if he bore any responsibility for the health impacts of the wind turbines.

Ms. Isherwood said she was suffering terribly as were members of her family. She pressed Mr. Bowcock on whether the town should compensate people whose health has been impacted by the turbines, since they may have to move.

Several Windwise members also attended that meeting, but did not speak. Ms. Isherwood said she came forward although not on the agenda because she’d been told she couldn’t be on it.

On Monday, Selectman Charles Murphy said, “According to the Attorney General, you’re correct the chairman sets the agenda.”

But, he added, “When I was chairman, I always encouraged people to come before the Board of Selectmen because sometimes that’s the only place they can be heard.”

Mr. Murphy said Ms. Isherwood later told him, “She thought that was the end of the meeting and she apologized.” He said he has no problem with allowing time for the public to speak at meetings “as long as it’s done in a respectful manner.”

He added, “I don’t know if we can resolve anything, but we can listen.”

Mr. Bowcock did let Ms. Isherwood speak at at least one prior meeting and let her speak briefly as the meeting room cleared several weeks ago between scheduled appointments.

He did not agree to place her on a future agenda and didn’t answer her questions about board members taking responsibility for the harmful effects of their actions.

On Monday, Mr. Bowcock said he would consider allowing a limited amount of time for Windwise on a future agenda.

“I’ll look on the agenda for our next meeting and I’ll let you know if they can appear on the agenda or not,” he told Mr. Espindola.

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