Fairhaven Board of Health Open for Wi...

Fairhaven Board of Health Open for Wind Turbine Business

Posted in the Fairhaven Forum

Jack Kelly

Jamestown, RI

#1 Sep 5, 2013


The Fairhaven Board of Health is open for business—but closed for residents

Posted on September 5, 2013 by WindWise Fairhaven
For over a year now, the residents have petitioned the Fairhaven Board of Health to have an open public hearing so that those who are being harmed by the turbines can tell their story and have their voices heard. Peter DeTerra and Jeanine Lopes have steadfastly refused to grant this request. The have refused to take any steps to investigate the large and growing list of complaints. They have slammed the door shut in the face of residents who desperately need help.

DeTerra and Lopes put any doubt about their intentions to rest when they voted to reject a motion by fellow Board member, Barbara Acksen, to hold a public hearing. DeTerra and Lopes actually voted to refuse to listen to those being harmed.

In effect, they voted to ignore the responsibilities of their office to protect the health of residents— and to defer simply human decency. They voted to continue ignoring residents and reject any shred of empathy. No surprise. For a year and a half, they have completely turned their back on almost 500 health complaints and refused to hold a joint session with the Select Board or even discuss the problem with them. They have made no effort at all to investigate the validity of these complaints. The Fairhaven Board of Health is closed to residents.

At the same, DeTerra has repeatedly granted full access for a public hearing and executive session to the wind developers he is supposed to regulate. DeTerra’s Board may be closed for residents, but it is definitely open for business—with extended hours.

So, before casting your vote on September 9th, there are some things you should know about Peter DeTerra and his responsibilities, or the lack thereof. The most fundamental responsibilities for any local Board of Health are defined by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 111, sections 142 – 150. The most important of these is section 143, the so called “Noisome Trades” law. The first thing you need to know about this law is that it is NOT about noise regulation per se.

Section 143 is a very old, well-established law in Massachusetts. The English word ‘noisome’ actually comes from a Middle English term ‘noiesome’ or ‘noysome’ which actually means ‘harmful’—not noisy. The terms nuisance and annoyance derive from the same root and they mean harm, not mild aggravation. So when you read the expression noisome trades in sections 143 – 150, you should read this to mean harmful trades. This is the only way that you can make sense of such expressions as “noisome and injurious odors,” for example.

This law is about the regulation of trades which are harmful and injurious, regardless of whether it is odor, sound, or toxicity. That is what the Board of Health is supposed to do. This fact has been established in case after case for many, many years. Turbines are a noisome trade because they are harmful to people, not because they are noisy. Making them quieter does not matter if people still get headaches or nausea, for instance.

The concept of ‘assignment’ is also extremely important in this context. It is the power to assign a new location to harmful or injurious trades in order to protect residents who live near them. The Board of Health has this power to relocate any business or trade which is harmful when it is too close to residents. It can order such a trade to move to someplace it deems to be safe for the public.

Section 143 is very clear and easy to understand once you know what these terms actually mean. It says:

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