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Judge finds in favor of Fairhaven in turbine lawsuit

FAIRHAVEN – A Bristol County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of Fairhaven in a lawsuit concerning the town’s wind turbines.

Twenty-three members of Windwise, a group opposing the town’s two turbines, filed suit against the town in December 2011, alleging that the north turbine’s lease is “invalid” because it was built on Lot 9, instead of Lot 8A, as authorized by Town Meeting.

Judge Lloyd Macdonald found that, regardless of what was written in the article approved by Town Meeting, members were aware of the exact location of the turbines when they passed the article.

In his order issued Thursday, Macdonald wrote that he watched a video of the May 15, 2007, Town Meeting at which members were presented with maps showing them the turbines’ locations and distances from residences.

“The essence of the issue that was before Town Meeting was whether its members would authorize the lease of town property adjacent to the town’s wastewater treatment plant for the construction of turbines,” Macdonald wrote. “When the question was proposed, the members of the Town Meeting knew that it was within Lot 9 that the north turbine was being proposed.”

Macdonald called the article’s incorrect reference to Lot 8A “an inadvertent clerical error.”

He further found that to force “the removal of the north turbine because of that error in the face of indisputable proof that the actual intent of the Town Meeting was to have the turbine located where it is would turn the logic of the law on its head.”

Windwise Attorney Ann Denardis said she and her clients are “discussing our options at this time about how to further proceed.”

“There is always an option for an appeal,” she said.

Fairhaven attorney Thomas Crotty said he was glad the judge saw past the “technical legal glitch” and ruled in the town’s favor, saying “Now we can address the bigger issues.”

Crotty said the town is eagerly awaiting the findings of the state’s study to learn whether the turbines are in violation of state noise regulations.

“There are people who claim that turbines can disturb people’s health,” he said. “We need to look and see if we have real issues here and not be fighting about little technical details that have nothing to do with whether turbines are a problem.”