The boss of Palmer Capital and Fairhaven Wind, Gordon Deane, and his partners Sumul Shah and Jim Sweeney want a compromise. They have a compromise, shutting the turbines down from only 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The neighbors get 12 hours of peace, and noise the other 12. It sounds like the dealer who’s allowed to keep half the pot after being caught playing with a stacked deck – and then asking for a bigger split.
Town officials from the beginning compromised their own town. Setbacks were framed around a predetermined location. The previous selectmen Chairman Brian Bowcock and Executive Secretary Jeffrey Osuch worked in tandem and under the radar with the developers. They gave them a deal they couldn’t refuse.
The Health Board Chairman Peter DeTerra ignored his Board’s legally mandated role. The town lawyer defended and continues to defend the developers, apparently convincing the health board chair to violate a privacy promise with a mass email survey. People in the neighborhood around these things have had the deck stacked against them from the beginning and now the developers want a better compromise?
The health board compromised the law. The Fairhaven Board of Health is required by the Noisome Trade Act, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 111, Section 143, to ban any trade or employment, which would result in a nuisance, is harmful to person or property or negatively impacts health. If a proposal for such activity is brought forward, the health board is required by this law to hold public hearings and determine if possible, a proper location. This never happened. A new select board is elected, apologizes, begins to right a wrong and now the developers want to negotiate a compromise?
The truth was compromised. The developers and their friends in town government told neighbors there would be no noticeable noise or health issues, and property values wouldn’t be impacted. The developers said minimum setbacks weren’t necessary; the turbines were guaranteed by the Chinese manufacture. They said the news about problems in Falmouth weren’t true or the turbines were different – Fairhaven’s were special guaranteed Sinovel turbines.
There have been over 450 noise complaints, people are unable to sleep, some are made dizzy by the low-level sound and suffer headaches, homes have lost value and some will be impossible to sell. The five Falmouth selectmen voted unanimously in February to remove the turbines because of health impacts. Sinovel is being sued for theft of trade secrets, so that promised guarantee might be problematic.
This project was compromised from its inception. The turbines are too close. They have been found to be out of compliance by a DEP biased toward wind developers. An independent acoustical engineering firm would find violations far in excess of those found by a state agency with a mandate of 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020.
The turbines are exactly what the Mass. General Law was meant to prevent. The developers and two current members of the Fairhaven Board of Health ignored this law. They ignore the damage they’ve inflicted. This project has failed and now they want to compromise? A new compromise, after an earlier town government dealt a winning hand to the developers, cheating their own citizens out of the enjoyment of their homes and risking their health?
Health and home can’t be compromised. It’s time to pull the plug. Take the stacked deck away and kick Deane, Shah and Sweeney out of town. They can take their two 400-foot Chinese Sinovel turbines with its stolen software with them. Call that a compromise.
Henry Ferreira lives in Fairhaven.
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