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Turbines on trial: BOH discusses how to regulate Kingston’s supersized turbines

Claims of ill-health effects stemming from the Kingston Wind Independence (KWI) Turbine were on full display this week during a Board of Health (BOH) meeting that turned into a series of emotional appeals and disturbing revelations.

“The shadow flicker has continued. I was home today with my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter…I sat there as she stood in the window at 3:30 in the afternoon and blinked her eyes like this,” said Prospect Street resident Mark Wheeler before heavily blinking his eyes.

After imitating his infant daughters blinking, Wheeler paused for 25 seconds and appeared to fight back tears.

According to Livestrong, excessive blinking in children can be an early symptom of Tourette’s syndrome, eyestrain, nearsightedness or blepharitis.

After regaining his composure, Wheeler asked which BOH members had seen shadow flicker firsthand. “Can I just get a brief show of hands from the board as to who has seen the effects of shadow flicker?”

Jack Breen was the only member of the Kingston health board who did not raise his hand.

Wheeler’s speech, along with several others, came after the BOH discussed how to regulate Kingston’s wind turbines to mitigate complaints about residual noise and shadow flicker.

“If [shadow flicker] is exceeding what was promised to the town then [the turbines] should be shut down…or mitigated,” BOH member Bill Watson said when fellow board member Dan Sapir asked why Watson wanted to discuss regulations. “Some of the people complain they’re getting it for 30, 40 minutes a day…it seems to be excessive.”

The BOH also discussed possible obstacles to regulating Kingston’s existing turbines, including grandfathering rights and whether or not regulations would be retroactive.

“To Dan [Sapir’s] point about grandfathering,” Breen interjected. “Certainly these windmills get old in time and might get noisier. The blades may change. Hey, the weather may change. It may be that the sun changes and you have two hours a day of flicker.”

Breen continued. “The sun changes with whatever, global warming or whatever. I’m not trying to be humorous here.”

There is no existing scientific evidence to suggest that global warming could alter the sun or the duration of a day.

A discussion regarding Sapir’s request for special counsel also ensued as fellow board members warmed to the notion of parting ways with Kingston Town Counsel Jay Talerman.

“I know you’re looking for special counsel,” Watson said to Sapir. “If town counsel gives advice, that’s fine. If he says he can’t do it, we can certainly ask for special counsel.”

Sapir has previously requested the BOH seek special counsel for legal advice pertaining to mitigating citizen complaints about Kingston’s supersized turbines, citing a conflict of interest for Talerman due to his status as the party who negotiated the contract with KWI on behalf of the Kingston Selectmen.

The BOH discussion about turbine regulations is expected to continue into the next meeting, scheduled for Monday, February 11th. An agenda for next week’s BOH meeting will be posted tomorrow.

Kingstonian Tim Dwyer also delivered an emotional speech rife with dismay and disgust at the lack of town government action as health complaints mount. “When you go home tonight, sit your family down,” Dwyer said.

“Look them in the eye and say ‘if it was you that couldn’t stand another day because of another sleepless night.’ Look them in the eye and say ‘I wouldn’t do anything more than I’m doing for the people in Kingston. I would wait for the process to play itself out,’” Dwyer said to the BOH before leaving to an ovation.

Dwyer’s speech to the BOH, along with nearly 20 minutes of condensed footage from Monday’s meeting, is now available on KingstonJournal.com. Start watching the action by pressing play on the video screen below.