FAIRHAVEN – Two industrial wind turbines on town land were ordered shut down from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. following a vote of selectmen and the Board of Health Monday.
“We come together as a team to work on a new beginning and begin the town’s healing,” said Select Board Chairman Charles Murphy. “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. He said the town has received more than 450 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 with terms of its lease and with the state’s 10 decibel limit for increasing noise levels.
Calling Fairhaven Wind LLC a tenant on town property, Mr. Haworth said it was “out of compliance” with the lease.
At a public hearing May 21, the state Department of Environmental Protection said the turbines had exceeded the 10 decibel limit set by the state several times. The exceedances occurred in tests at night, with the first failure 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 town boards. He said, “I feel a little offended.”
Town Counsel Thomas Crotty said it might ultimately be up to a judge to decide if the 30 day time span is 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 close. “The wind turbines will be shut down and further testing will be done.. and that makes Fairhaven united.”
Mr. DeTerra said, “Let this town heal.”
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, refused to shut the turbines down at the public hearing May 21 with the Board of Health. At that meeting, he urged working with the developer to bring the turbines into compliance.
Wind turbine opponent Louise Barteau said, “I’m really proud of our boards for doing the right thing, for listening to people, for not being taken in by developer speak. This is a really difficult situation for boards to be in.”
Windwise activist Kenneth Pottel said, “It’s a great day.” Mr. Pottel said, “We’re still going to be vigilant,” but said it is virtually “impossible” for the developer “to be in compliance in 30 days.”
Turbine opponent John Methia said, “It’s been a long fight. We’ve been at this since 2007. We’re proud of Fairhaven today.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Murphy said, “I think some of the details still have to be worked out,” as far as what is now a contract dispute with Fairhaven Wind.
Mr. Murphy said the turbines were shut down Monday night.
As for whether the turbines could be turned back on at night if they come into compliance, Mr. Murphy said, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. They need to comply so they can keep them on all day.”
As for whether this is likely to go to court, with the developer suing the town, Mr. Murphy said, “I hope we can continue to work on the whole process without going to court.”
Mr. Murphy said the wind turbine dispute and Board of Health election court challenge have both incurred high legal costs for the town.
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