FAIRHAVEN – Members of the Board of Health requested funding today from the developer of the town’s two wind turbines to help hire an independent expert in acoustics as part of a written order to shut down the turbines overnight.
The order will be sent to the developers today via US Mail overnight shipping.
“Continued operation of the wind turbines … in excess of the limit set forth in the DEP noise regulations, during the hours of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., constitutes a nuisance which is injurious to the public health,” the order reads. The board also “hereby orders that the turbines not operate from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. until such time that the order is removed by the Board of Health.”
The order includes a stipulation that Fairhaven Wind must provide the Board of Health with funds for it to hire an independent acoustical engineer to review mitigation plans and testing data. It also requests funds to hire a contractor to continuously monitor the turbines.
Board member Barbara Acksen said she wanted the terms written into the order because “I don’t know how cooperative (Fairhaven Wind) will be.”
Town Counsel Thomas Crotty advised the Board against using the longer version, saying “it boxes you into a corner.”
“You have to be flexible,” he said. “We don’t want to go to court over every single detail.”
Board member Jeanine Lopes did not sign the order, saying only that she “didn’t vote on the motion to approve the order and I wasn’t in favor of it.”
“I’m not going to be signing it,” she said.
After the vote, which took place just after noon, the board went into executive session to discuss the possible litigation outcomes of the order with Crotty.
The order cites violations of the state’s noise regulation by the turbines found during testing conducted by the DEP.
The Board voted last week to shut the turbines down between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. at a meeting where turbine developers were present.
The developers initially adhered to the spoken order but said Saturday they would no longer be curtailing turbine operation because they had not received written notice of the order.
Town Counsel Crotty warned the board that though the developer is responsible for proving he can operate the turbines without violating state noise regulations, the Board does not have the authority to tell the developer how to mitigate the violations.
“They have to show that they can meet DEP regulations, but under general law it’s their decision about how to cure the nuisance,” he said.
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