Fairhaven boards vote to shut down turbines at night; Developers will have 30 days to comply with safe noise limits
FAIRHAVEN – The two industrial wind turbines were ordered shut down at night immediately, following a joint vote of selectmen and the Board of Health Monday. The turbines will not be allowed to operate from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“We come together as a team to work on a new beginning and begin the town’s healing,” Select Board Chairman Charles Murphy said at the beginning of the meeting. “Peace at night begins tonight, Our residents will not be the test subjects any longer.”
Health Board Chairman Peter DeTerra made the motion to shut the turbines down at night. He said the town had received more than 480 complaints from more than 45 households. Mr. DeTerra said the turbines should be “shut down as a public health nuisance.”
In a separate motion by Selectman Geoffrey Haworth, developer Fairhaven Wind LLC was given 30 days to come into compliance.
Calling Fairhaven Wind LLC the tenant leasing the property, Mr. Haworth said it was “out of compliance” with the lease.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said the turbines had exceeded the 10 decibel limit set by the state several times for how much noise could be added to background sound. The excessive noise occurred in tests at night time, with the first occurring last November followed by several this spring.
“You’ve had since November to mitigate,” Mr. Haworth said, yet they “let it truck on until the public hearing on May 21” without informing any boards in Fairhaven. “I feel a little offended.”
Mr. Haworth moved to give Fairhaven Wind LLC 30 days to “fix the breach” under the terms of the contract and come into full compliance, which he said should be consistent 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.”
Selectmen said they would have to work out how the developer could do testing with the turbines shut down at night.
Town Counsel Thomas Crotty said it might ultimately be up to a judge to decide if the 30 day time span for compliance was sufficient.
Selectman Robert Espindola said he agreed they should “take action” and not wait any longer. He said they would have to work out “contractual issues” in executive session with the developer.
“We made history here today,” Mr. Murphy said as the meeting drew to a conclusion. “The wind turbines will be shut down, and further testing will be done.” He added, “And that makes Fairhaven united.”
Mr. DeTerra said, “Let this town heal.”
Asked for further comments before heading into executive session, Mr. DeTerra said, “I feel we’ll start the mitigation process and bring the town together. I’m a lifelong resident of Fairhaven. I’ve heard the public’s cry.”
Sumul Shah of Fairhaven Wind LLC said he would not comment and that “out of respect for selectmen” he would “wait to discuss matters in executive session.”
Also going into executive session were representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which was formed by Governor Deval Patrick to promote green energy.
Martin Suuberg, deputy commissioner of the state DEP, had refused to shut the turbines down at the public healing in Fairhaven May 21 with the Board of Health. At that meeting, he urged working with the developer to bring the turbines into compliance.
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