KINGSTON – Last week, the Board of Health voted 3-2 to ask selectmen if they would consider contacting the owners of the Independence wind turbine about the possibility of entering into what BOH Chairman Joe Casna described as meaningful negotiations with the town regarding mitigation.
Selectmen were never presented that initiative after Leland Road resident Sean Reilly protested the decision, urging the board not to consider it. While he initially supported it, Reilly said he had since found out what it really means – closed doors and private meetings.
“Upon further reflection, I strongly object to any such process,” he said. “The last thing those of us who have been suffering need is a lack of transparency.”
Any remedy that addresses the health impacts of the turbine is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Health, he said, and should be decided by that board.
“Our health and well-being should never be negotiable,” he said.
Board of Health members Dan Sapir and Jack Breen voted against making this request.
After the meeting, Sapir said Casna’s proposal was a mistake, and so was the vote.
“He’s undermining the authority of a board he sits on,” he said. “As a selectman he was part of the negotiations that created this monster.”
Responding to this complaint, Casna, who also chairs the Board of Selectmen, said Sapir was grandstanding by criticizing an initiative he put forth in good faith.
“I’m trying to handle this in a responsible manner,” he said.
Thursday night, Breen said Kingston Wind Independence co-owner Kially Ruiz has made it clear that his company is waiting until the planned sound study has been completed to respond to any requests.
After the Board of Health meeting, Casna contacted town counsel to discuss the board’s vote. Casna said he still planned to present his proposal to selectmen Tuesday night despite counsel strongly advising against it but decided against it after Reilly spoke.
He said he will report back to the Board of Health and may suggest the board reconsider its vote.
Also Tuesday night, Doreen Reilly questioned selectmen about a vote they took in December. She says the vote was to direct the Board of Health to take the “strongest possible action” to provide a remedy to residents who are impacted by the turbine, yet that wasn’t the content of a letter to the board.
At that same meeting, selectmen voted to shut down the Independence and Mary O’Donnell’s three turbines at least temporarily until the results of a sound study could be analyzed but then quickly rescinded that decision.
Selectman Susan Munford suggested the board look into Reilly’s complaint, saying there may have been “a fear of us saying the wrong thing” when the letter was sent.
“I am looking at this as simply, we said we’d do something and we didn’t do it,” she said.
Other board members agreed to this approach. However, Selectman Sandy MacFarlane recused herself, having consulting with the Ethics Commission because she has a distant relative who is a complainant.
Reilly also complained of inaction on the part of the Board of Health to mitigate residents’ health concerns and improper citing of the turbine.
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