March 15, 2013

Challenger says Board of Health should be more responsive to turbine complaints

By Peggy Aulisio, Editor | The Advocate |

FAIRHAVEN – John Wethington made a pitch for replacing long-time incumbent Peter DeTerra on the Board of Health last week, saying he will be more responsive to residents’ complaints about the wind turbines and other issues. His comments came at a March 6 candidates’ gathering at the Council on Aging.

“They’re citizens of this town and they’re suffering,” he said of members of more than 50 households who have filed more than 400 complaints about the two industrial wind turbines on town land.

“Four hundred and one complaints and nothing has been done,” Mr. Wethington said.

At the urging of Windwise members, Mr. DeTerra did call for a state Department of Environmental Protection study of the noise generated by the wind turbines to see if it complies with the state’s 10 decibel limit for increasing noise levels. Mr. DeTerra said that law provides the only enforcement action the Board of Health can take.

But Mr. Wethington said more can be done. “That’s an issue the Board of Health has to focus on completely and they’re not,” he said.

He cited a story in the Boston Globe that day saying wind turbines lower property values.

Mr. Wethington said other towns, like Bourne, have lowered decibel limits to 6 from 10. By contrast, he said, Fairhaven has been “wind friendly” to “outside investors” who have “no local ties and only want to line their pockets.”

He said if he is elected, he will “look at bylaws to protect our citizens.”

Mr. Wethington said there is only one health professional, Dr. Barbara Acksen, now on the health board. He said such experience is valuable on a board that is responsible for residents’ health.

Mr. Wethington said he has 20 years of experience as a nurse and is now working with patients at their homes. He said health care professionals learn to deal with people in a “caring and compassionate” way.

Among the other health-related issues he said he’d like to deal with if elected are childhood obesity, helping older residents get rid of outdated prescription medicine and providing more education about recycling. Mr. Wethington said he’d like to get involved with the School Committee in educating young people about obesity.

Mr. Wethington talked at greater length than Mr. DeTerra who spoke first and cited a long list of certifications he’s obtained for a myriad of issues the board deals with. A member of the Board of Health, which he chairs, since 2005, he also chairs the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Like many candidates, Mr. DeTerra cited his long-time ties to Fairhaven, saying his father was born here and that his family owns a farm in East Fairhaven. He said he has four children in Fairhaven schools and is active as a church leader, in Little League, Boy Scouts, and both the North Fairhaven and East Fairhaven Improvement Associations.

Mr. DeTerra said the Board of Health has “many responsibilities,” which include restaurant inspections, septic inspections, clean water and flu clinics.

Serving on town boards has been a rich experience, he said, asking voters to “allow me to continue this valuable journey.”

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