FAIRHAVEN – A questionnaire sent to residents who have filed complaints about the wind turbines has some asking questions about how it originated and why.
Board of Health Chairman Peter DeTerra said Town Counsel Thomas Crotty sent the e-mail.
“He was gathering information on the lineup of the speakers,” Mr. DeTerra said, referring to the July 15 meeting with the turbine developer.
Mr. DeTerra said Mr. Crotty was “looking for people who are more neutral,” who have submitted complaints but are not “vocal” at town board meetings.
“He wants neutral people to come up and testify,” Mr. DeTerra said. He called it “gathering information for the meeting July 15.”
The questionnaire was e-mailed by the Board of Health to residents who have submitted complaints. Louise Barteau, who actively opposes the turbines, said she received a copy from a concerned resident who received it. Ms. Barteau provided a copy to the Advocate.
Ms. Barteau said she was “concerned” and that the resident was concerned because most of the survey questions center on whether the resident had opposed the wind turbines before they went up. It also asks whether their health problems existed before the turbines began running.
Mr. DeTerra said the questions were just intended to weed people out who have opposed the turbines from the beginning.
Select Board Chairman Charles Murphy said Monday he was upset to learn about the questionnaire after it was e-mailed and not from the Board of Health.
Patricia Fowle, health agent, said Tuesday she would not comment until she’d talked to the Board of Health. “I prefer to talk to the board before I talk to the press,” she said.
When told that Mr. Murphy expressed what was close to anger about the survey, Ms. Fowle said, “He’s not the Board of Health.”
Board of Health member Barbara Acksen said Monday she knew nothing about it. She said there was no vote of the Board of Health to approve the questions or send it out.
Mr. DeTerra said the board sends out e-mails all the time.
The introduction to the survey states that developer Fairhaven Wind LLC has the legal right to request a hearing before the Board of Health, which is scheduled for July 15. The first paragraph of the questionnaire says Fairhaven Wind has “exercised its legal right in asking for a hearing.”
Ms. Barteau said the questionnaire sounds like something the developer, Fairhaven Wind LLC, would have written. She said it raises red flags because it is mostly concerned with whether residents were opposed to the wind turbines before they went up and had health problems previously. She said the survey doesn’t seem to be interested in the sleep deprivation or health problems residents are experiencing.
Fairhaven Wind has been trying to mitigate the noise levels that exceed the state’s limit of adding 10 decibels to existing background sound. It did testing two nights last week trying to reduce noise by feathering blades and shutting one of the two turbines down from midnight to 4 a.m.
At Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Sumul Shah said shutting one turbine down at night seemed to solve the problem. (See related story, page A3)
Ms. Barteau said the tone of the questionnaire seems “prejudicial.” She said it seems like an attempt to “sort out people” who opposed the turbines before they went up.
“It seems like a process of intimidation,” Ms. Barteau said. “There are fewer questions about health and more about ‘were you concerned before they went up.’ Anyone who is an abutter would have been concerned before they went up.”
Ms. Barteau said she was concerned not just about the questions but also about the fact that all the residents’ e-mails are listed, even though the Board of Health had earlier promised confidentiality. She called the listing of e-mails “a violation of public trust.” She said the e-mail addresses should have been on a “blind carbon copy.”
Mr. DeTerra said the e-mail addresses were supposed to be confidential. “That was a mistake,” he said, adding that the survey was only sent to people who filed a complaint.
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