If you have been to Fairhaven recently, there is no doubt that you have seen the new windmills. Looming high above the tree line, they are pretty hard to miss. From the perspective of an environmentalist, it is difficult to see any downside to the majestic machines. They cost relatively little to install considering their massive size, and they provide clean renewable energy generated from a source that is guaranteed to stick around. From the perspective of the average community member, however, the two new installations pose an altogether different story. While many Fairhaven and local people understand and embrace the benefits that the windmills provide, multiple Fairhaven residents living near the windmills say the turbines are simply too close. Citizens have noted the high-decibel noise that causes headaches and loss of sleep. There has also been at least one video posted on a site written about the Fairhaven windmills demonstrating the flicker from one of the turbines. Flicker is the effect caused by the shadow of the windmill’s blades at sunrise and sunset, much like someone flicking the lights on and off constantly. Those certainly do not sound like ideal living conditions for any person, even a tolerant, environmentally-conscious one.
The Fairhaven Planning Board is in the process of reviewing the town’s wind turbine zoning bylaws, as they have not been updated since 2004. The current laws permit windmills to be up to 350 feet tall, at least 600 feet from a property line, and at most 60 decibels at the nearest property line. These numbers will be re-evaluated with input from the Fairhaven residents and windmill technology experts, and the new bylaw will be passed at the 2013 town meeting. No one wants to have his way of life threatened; we need to take this simple fact of life into account when building such important machines, because ultimately if the installation does not have public support, then it will not be possible. Hopefully, the town will be able to come to a resolution that makes everyone happy: town officials, community members, and environmentalists.
Check out these links below for more information on the Fairhaven windmills and the controversy surrounding them.