Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Alea iacta est

If you can figure out the title, you know where we are heading.

We are no longer in a "what if" scenario.

Someone made a comment to me after yesterday's Board of Health/Board of Selectmen meeting that I should think of what transpired as something following the concept it is easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Well in that light, forgive me for failing to understand little of what transpired on a Monday afternoon at Town Hall and forgive me in advance for anything written below.

I am personally hoping for this one to be broadcast often and for a long time.

I know the likelihood of the meeting being replayed in a legal setting is extremely great.  Not to mention a review or two to determine just how decisions can be announced ahead of any discussion and vote.

At this point, it is what it is, and to say muddled would be a true understatement.

At this point what would not be an understatement is to note that the one saving grace that may come out of this is the motion of Selectman Haworth.  Articulate points/comments leading up to it, clearly thought out and based on the legal avenues available to the town, and more importantly extremely defensible.

His statements and posture on the matter were spot on, correct and necessary. His motion extremely significant.  All of which are absolutely supported by this writer.  

No matter where you stand on the turbine issue, you should be extremely grateful that someone at that meeting table took the time to do the research and frame an argument and make a motion that could withstand any scrutiny.

In the end it may be the one point that let's the town walk away with a victory.  

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things.  

We all know that.  Indeed we all know a huge part of the problem is the way this matter has been handle in what many of us perceive as the wrong way over the past several years.  

What a shame that the intestinal fortitude which suddenly appeared yesterday had not been exhibited sooner.

I also think most people present at the meeting yesterday, and who will see it, deep down realize where the actions taken and what transpired actually fall in that limited spectrum.

How does a board chair post a meeting with the stated notice of "Joint meeting with Board of Selectmen to discuss wind turbines", then on cue declare said turbines a nuisance without knowing or having reason to know that was what he was going to do, and do so with no discussion, no notice of intent, no statement of of the standard of violation, no entry of evidence at the posted meeting, no nothing?

This action easily could have, and if that is an honest position absolutely should have been taken with the necessary pains and process to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s.  Forgive the pun, but just when was the switch flipped to let the electricity flow to light that idea bulb?

What forgiveness will there be upon judicial review of that one?

Does anyone seriously believe the developer intends to roll over and play dead?  

Does anyone seriously believe the state is going to back the town on this one?

I could provide a check list as to why veering off a clearly defined path to travel to reach a destination is going to at best lead to a very extended and budget busting trip.  Quite frankly, I don't see any reason to bother.  

It is indeed time for this town to begin a healing process.  When you attempt to set a broken limb however you best know what you are doing.  This type of triage doesn't seem to have worked in Falmouth, has it?.

The noncompliance issue absolutely needed to be dealt with.  

It could have been dealt with by the Selectmen at any one of the six calendared selectmen meetings held between noncompliance announcement and yesterday.  It should have been dealt with at a meeting called for that purpose anytime within the 19 days between the announcement of noncompliance and yesterday.

I do get it.  I really do.  Unfortunately, I think I get it a bit too well, or maybe in fact not at all. 

What happens when the 21 day mandate expires?  What happens if the developer establishes a means and method to operate within the compliance standards? What happens when the best laid plans of mice and men go awry?  Worse yet, what happens if your best just isn't good enough?

I sit here envisioning all the platitudes to be foisted on some, having in fact read some of the same all ready.  .

I sincerely hope those platitudes turn out to be actually deserved.  There is too much at stake here otherwise, not just in monetary terms, but whether this town will ever heal and truly unite.

May decisions made Monday afternoon be followed by not only the iron will that must exist to see the same carried out, but the ability to see the same through.

I truly and sincerely hope so.


  1. I went to the meeting to hear a discussion with a method to move forward. Instead I heard first an abrupt decision and then applause. Something was missing. No findings. No discussion. Absolutely no rebuttals. The only facts in hand I am aware of:

    1. MassDEP INTERIM Report with preliminary results.

    2. MassDEP has not completed the sampling work.

    3. The results of this report are preliminary and based upon a limited number of sampling dates under limited conditions, and should not be considered to be conclusive.

    4. Results indicate compliance with MassDEP’s standards. We anticipate that the operator of the turbines will be proposing testing and potential mitigation strategies that can be quickly implemented to address the conditions in which exceedances were identified.

    5. Operation of the two wind turbines was found to not contribute to a pure tone.

    6.Once the data is collected and quality control review is complete, MassDEP will analyze all of the data to determine if the sound levels from the wind turbines comply with MassDEP’s Noise Policy.

    7. Mr. Haworth said the operator exceeded 60dB as measured at the property line. I don’t see that in the study. Anyone else?

  2. This is just like a battlefield.BOH,Selectman,Lawyers,residents,Turbine Operators all are looking at the same thing .Except they are looking thru a mirror which reverses there perspectives of the situation at hand.They all throw out smoke to cloud up each others view of the problem while the state DEP reports are still inconclusive.Let the wind blow until we know how to stop the noise..

  3. So at what point Code do you suggest these people get a good nights rest? I'm serious.

    1. I know it's not directed at me, but:

      First, everyone should wait for the FINAL state report, as it's the only set of data that exists.

      In addition, I would have asked the Board of Health to commission a study (paid for by the developer) to expand on the noise studies. I think that would have been well within their power. The study should include: a larger sample population, more frequency, more locations (including homes),and more wind/weather conditions. This would have built a great set of data.

      Barring timely collection of the data or agreement to collect such data, the BOH should have considered shuutting down the turbines in the SPECIFIC wind speed/direction that the interim report suggested violations had occurred. Until a final report was issued, I fail to see what data set corroborated the decision.

      In addition, per the norm, the operators (developer & the Town) should be allowed to institute nuisance abatement or mitigation, as pretty much every other private, municipal, commercial or industrial facility has the option of.

      Should the mitigation or abatement fail to meet policy and standards, then the only option would be to fully or temporally cease operations of the turbines.

      Maybe that doesn't answer your question. Not really sure your question can be answered.

    2. Sleep disturbances affect the majority of the population, especially me. “Take Sominex tonight and sleep …

      But the issue is compliance. And to become compliant all the wind operator needs to do is get readings under 10dB. The few times they are not in compliance are when there is very little wind at night, hence low background ambient readings. This is also when the very efficient turbines produce the least amount of electrical power. So the obvious solution is to adjust upward the “cut in” speed, which tells the turbine when to turn on. Higher wind, more background noise, the higher cut in operates, they are once again compliant, but the operator and town make less profit.

      The problem now however is how does the operator adjust the cut in and operate, and test, if he is prohibited to operate at night at all. That is why I feel the premature decision is not going to stand for long.

  4. Do any of the people have verifiable proof from a doctor that the windmills are disrupting there sleep,I am also serious.

  5. Thank for allowing the opportunity to offer my opinion on the matter. The TOWN MEETING members voted to have this contract entered into. That was a majority. Windwise stirred up enough argument that went unchallenged, and lobbied enough political pressure to get the turbines turned off because they did exceed the contracts dB rating on x number of occasions (or whatever the report stated that the Selectmen and BOH used to justify the shutting off). The question I have, is that if the Selectboard are in place to address ALL of the concerns of the people of Fairhaven, and take care of ALL of the taxpayers, not just the ones who complain the loudest, then did they do the right thing? I don't know and I don't have the answer, I only hope that my tax dollars don't end getting spent on this issue any more, and that any savings the town saw from their usage does not also go away. It is important to come up with an answer to this problem that satisfies all town residents, not just the ones who cant sleep. I cant sleep because of the boats in the harbor blowing their horns and running their motors.. when is the Board of Selectmen going to shut down the harbor so I can get a good nights sleep?

  6. Borrowing your style, I would add these facts:

    1: The regulations that are used for the policy and standards are effectively a "noise pollution" issue. The regs basically address what is a "nuisance".

    2. A nuisance is not a "health" related standard. Meaning: The regulations aren't necessarily for health protection, as much as they are for a human to "enjoy" their property. Sounds that are excess of standards produce no damaging health effects (think OSHA). It's completely different than a health protective standard for an exposure to a chemical compound.

    3. The common and accepted procedure to deal with nuisance issues is abatement or mitigation. Since institutional or engineering controls can effectively remove noncompliance, it is the first option. It is often the second and third option as well. Only after multiple gross failures AND with supporting data and documentation, will a violator be shut down. Examples surround you.

    4. The BOH has heard other nuisance complaints, some that contained much more data and documentation, some being discussed more than once, and the BOH has NOT voted for a shutdown (correctly, IMHO). Examples surround you.

    5. Arbitrary & Capricious. Look up the definition.

  7. Michelle FurtadoTuesday, June 11, 2013

    A sad sorry missing piece of the puzzle is the actual number of people affected, to what degree, and when.
    The DEP is testing, but who knows, even if they 'are' using the correct machine or method, whether they are testing the right locations, because not all of the residents called to report disturbances when they should have.
    Andrew Jones gave a very good explanation of the situation at hand in yesterday's blog.
    It appears that any resolution for the residents and developers alike, could be a very long process. And as much as everyone would like to come to an agreeable solution, I don't know how soon or 'if' that's possible. There are so many human and legal factors at play. It does seem like the dog is chasing it's tail.

  8. Reminds me of a scene in the movie "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" when the little guy shuts off the power because he cant get what he wants... "Who run Fairhaventown??? EMBARGO!!!"..


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