FAIRHAVEN – The Boards of Health and Selectmen will discuss a newly submitted turbine mitigation plan Monday night but will not make the document public before then.
The document will be discussed in two meetings held simultaneously at Town Hall, one in executive session and one in open session.
Selectmen Chairman Charlie Murphy said his board cannot make the document public until it has the chance to review it in closed session because the issue technically is a contract negotiation.
The mitigation plan does not count as a contract negotiation for the Board of Health, but Chairman Jeanine Lopes said she is not releasing the plan to the public until “we as a board go over it first.”
Town Counsel Thomas Crotty said it “makes sense” that the mitigation plan should be made public through the Board of Health before its meeting, but said he cannot advise the Board to do that “unless they ask me.”
“They’re my client, so they have to ask first,” he said.
The Standard-Times filed a Massachusetts Public Records Law request with the Board of Health on Friday asking for the mitigation plan. The board’s Health Agent Patricia Fowle responded that the board would have to ask selectmen for permission to consult with Crotty about the issue.
The Board of Health did provide a copy to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Clean Energy Center.
Each organization said copies should be sought from the town.
Gordon Deane of Fairhaven Wind would only say that the mitigation plan is a “follow up” to what his company submitted to the Board of Health in July.
That proposal, which was accepted by the board, would turn one of the two turbines off in wind conditions similar to those in which the DEP found violations of Massachusetts noise regulations.
State noise regulations prohibit any noise source from being more than 10 decibels louder than background noise. Last winter, the DEP’s noise testing of the turbines detected five violations. All the violations were found during the winter between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. and with northwesterly or easterly wind.
The July proposal allowed for continued testing of the turbines to see whether changing the angle of the blades to slow their spinning could still remain in compliance of state law while maintaining higher levels of power production than turning one turbine off completely.
Ken Pottel of the turbine opposition group Windwise said his group is growing impatient with town government, noting “I don’t know why the mitigation is secret.”
His group is also upset that neither board has responded to Windwise’s October petition asking for a public hearing on the turbines.
“It’s not like this is the same old stuff,” said Karen Isherwood, who started the 17-signature petition. “How you are affected by it continues.”
Selectmen passed the buck on Friday, saying the issue was one for the Board of Health.
Lopes said she would not hold a public hearing until after her board discusses the mitigation plan.
“I’m not even entertaining the idea right now,” she said.
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