SCITUATE – The Scituate Board of Health has voted not to investigate complaints from neighbors about a noisy wind turbine.
At the end of a virtual meeting on the turbine Monday night, board of health Chairman Douglas Whyte proposed that the board place the nine years of complaints from neighbors “on file.” The motion was approved on a voice vote.
That led to raucous calls from residents for an explanation of what “on file” meant.
“I’m not going to get into debates,” Whyte said. “I’ve given you the time. Please.”
Board of Health Director Andrew Scheele said at the meeting, “The complaints have been placed on file, and that’s where they’ll stay. They’re not going to take action. You can take us to court if you think you’ve been unjustly treated.”
Whyte did not conduct a roll call vote, as required by the Attorney General’s Office for virtual meetings.
The turbine issue was before the board on March 22, when Whyte gave the neighbors 15 minutes to talk about it and said he was worried that town officials would be angry at him for shutting down a turbine that brings in a profit to the town.
In his motion to not investigate the turbines for their impact on public health, Whyte said he was considering the direct cost to taxpayers if the turbine was shut down.
Neighbors have blamed the turbine for health problems stemming from sleep deprivation, including a heart attack and childhood illnesses.
Whyte said he visited the houses of those who have filed complaints at various times of the day, and in the middle of the night, to listen to the turbine himself and did not hear anything. He said the lack of more people complaining means there wasn’t actually a problem.
In a telephone interview, neighbor Ellen Kasper said the number of people complaining drops over time as they realize that nothing will ever happen.
“They tell us to go to the board of health, who tells us to go to the zoning board, who says go to the building inspector. They’ve sent us in this circle,” she said.
Kasper said it’s hard to keep fighting after almost a decade.
“People don’t complain for this long unless there’s a problem,” she said.
Mark McKeever, who lives 650 feet from the turbine, filed a lawsuit in 2012, shortly after the turbine was erected, over the noise and flicker, asking a judge to compel the board of health to declare the turbine a nuisance. The judge dismissed the case.
Previous Scituate health board members have claimed the turbines should only be shut down if they violate state laws on noise or flicker.
According to state law, boards of health must examine nuisances that cause sicknesses, regardless of whether the offending structure also violates noise or flicker laws.
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