FAIRHAVEN – Selectmen say contract negotiations with Fairhaven Wind LLC are on hold until the turbine owner can resolve its standoff with the Board of Health.
The Board of Health met Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss a counter-proposal from Fairhaven Wind about curtailing the overnight shutdown of the turbines. The board did not come to a conclusion and Fairhaven Wind announced Tuesday night it would resume around-the-clock operations of the turbines until it has a public hearing with the Board of Health.
No such hearing was scheduled for the Board of Health by Wednesday night.
Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Charlie Murphy said Wednesday his board “really has to wait until there is something definitive with the Board of Health” before resuming contract negotiations.
“Our hands are really tied,” he said.
Reached Wednesday, turbine manager Gordon Deane said the health board’s inaction Tuesday was the last straw in negotiations between the developer and the board. He asserted that the Board of Health’s June order that the turbines be shut off between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. does not technically take effect until after a public hearing with Fairhaven Wind.
“We have been trying to calm the rhetoric by keeping them off even though we don’t have an agreement or a hearing,” Deane said, adding that Fairhaven Wind agreed to postpone its request for a hearing last week while it works on a resolution with the Board of Health.
“We keep hoping they will come back to the table and we will have discussions, but we can’t afford to simply keep the turbines off without an agreement,” he said.
Board of Health Chairman Peter DeTerra and member Barbara Acksen did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. The board’s third member Jeannine Lopes declined to comment on the situation.
Last week, Fairhaven Wind met with the turbine steering committee where Acksen represented the Board of Health and presented the turbine developers with a proposal. That meeting was closed-door but sources told The Standard-Times at the time that the Board of Health offered to limit the hours of the overnight turbine shutdown in exchange for Fairhaven Wind paying for an independent acoustic assessment of the turbines.
Fairhaven Wind responded with a counter-proposal, which was sent to the Board of Health via email the evening of July 18, Deane said, in order to be in time for its scheduled July 19 meeting.
The board later canceled the July 19 meeting, saying it had not received the counter-proposal in time.
According to Deane and Murphy, Fairhaven Wind was about to resume overnight turbine operations over the weekend but Murphy convinced the developers to wait.
“(Murphy) told us he would arrange a Board of Health meeting early in the week,” Deane said.
After Tuesday’s meeting when no decision was reached, Acksen said each member of the health board made a different motion on the counter-proposal but none was seconded.
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