FAIRHAVEN – A new group with strong opinions of the town’s two turbines has blown into town, this one calling itself Friends of Fairhaven Wind.
With 215 “likes” to its Facebook page, the group was formed just last week for residents who like the turbines and want to see them continue spinning. Former Board of Public Works member Dan Freitas said he decided to form the group after the Board of Health voted to turn the turbines off from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
He said he thought members of town government had been “bullied” into the decision by Windwise, a group that opposes the turbines.
“They are telling people their kids will get sick when Wood School opens next year,” he said. “It’s fear tactics.”
The group met for the first time on Thursday; attending were about 30 people, many of whom live within a half mile of the turbines, Freitas said.
Linda Therrien said she can see the turbines from every window in her house located 1,200 feet from the turbines and is “sick of the complaints.”
“I was waiting to see if our town officials would come to their senses and see it was only a small, small group complaining,” she said. “Now, it’s time for the majority to speak up.”
Jim Leal, who lives on Prince Street, agreed.
“It’s like closing down Route 6 from 7 to 7 because the traffic is too loud. It would be ridiculous,” he said. “They say it’s so people can sleep, but who sleeps for 12 hours per day?”
There are roughly 700 homes within a half mile of the Fairhaven turbines. To date, the Board of Health has received more than 400 complaints about the turbines from roughly 50 households.
Windwise spokesman Ken Pottel said his group has a legitimate complaint, noting “the turbines violate state law.”
“We obey the laws in this town,” he said.
Freitas said he understands some residents are bothered by noise from the turbines and he wants the machines to “comply with the law.” But, he said, “We don’t want them to stop spinning.”
Nate Bekemeier agreed. He said he does not believe residents who claim the turbines are giving them other health problems such as increased blood pressure or nausea.
“I respect anyone with a legitimate noise complaint, but these things they say, you can’t prove,” he said. “It’s nutty-ville happening here.”
Multiple members of Friends of Fairhaven Wind who spoke with The Standard-Times said they were bothered by the behavior of Windwise members during public meetings, with members frequently booing, hissing or coughing while town officials are speaking.
They also expressed concern that the town’s actions against the turbines could result in a costly lawsuit for the town.
Selectman Geoffrey Haworth denied he was “bullied” into any decision concerning the turbines, saying it is “easy for people who don’t live near the turbines to dismiss complaints.”
“It would be easy for me to say I don’t live near them (so) why should I care? But my job as a member of the board is to care for everyone in Fairhaven, even if it’s a minority,” he said.
Fairhaven Wind developer Gordon Deane said he was glad to hear of his company’s “friends.”
“Unfortunately, they were silent until now,” he said. “Maybe if they had spoken up earlier we wouldn’t be having this dispute with town officials.”
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