FAIRHAVEN – In a move that brought some in the audience to tears, Selectmen Chairman Charlie Murphy Tuesday night apologized to residents and called for a meeting of selectmen and the health board to discuss shutting down the town’s two wind turbines at night.
Murphy said he hopes to provide some relief for the 57 families who have filed complaints about the turbines at the wastewater treatment plant on Arsene Street, including the noise they generate.
“I am sorry for all of your suffering and what you have been through,” he said. “I realize that many of you tried to speak out and were denied a place on our agenda, and I thank you for your persistence.”
Said Murphy, “I feel everyone in town should get a good night’s sleep.”
About 10 members of Windwise, a group that opposes the turbines, attended the meeting and a few of them burst into tears at Murphy’s announcement. It was not on the agenda and he said that neither Selectman Bob Espindola nor Selectman Geoffrey Haworth were aware that it was coming prior to the meeting.
Murphy’s comments mark a significant change in the town leadership’s opinion of the turbines, in part brought on by the April 1 town election in which Haworth ousted former Selectmen Chairman Brian Bowcock.
Haworth ran for office on a platform that he would be more willing to listen to turbine complaints than his opponent. Espindola, who won his seat in 2012, ran for office as the Windwise candidate.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, turbine developer Sumul Shah declined to comment.
At the meeting, Town Counsel Thomas Crotty said the town still has jurisdiction over the turbines despite not owning them.
“The town has not given up its authority over the health and welfare of its citizens,” he said. He also cautioned the board not to “embroil” itself in a costly action and to work with Shah if possible.
Any decision regarding the turbines would need to be made by the Board of Health, which is currently in limbo because the results of its April 1 election remain unresolved.
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