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Published On: Tue, Jul 16th, 2013

WHO’S THE BOSS? Jack Breen, Toni Cushman express frustrations with Planning Board

IMG_5262[1]TOWN HOUSE- As the Kingston Wind Independence (KWI) Turbine stands idle—in need of repairs after a direct strike from a lightening bolt—some Board of Health (BOH) members are publicly voicing fears that the Planning Board is trying to steal their thunder by drafting wind turbine regulations without consulting the Kingston health board.

“For [the Planning Board] to go forward without our input is ludicrous,” BOH-member Jack Breen said on Monday night. “It shows very bad town government.”

The BOH has been grappling with citizen complaints about flicker and noise directed at Kingston’s four industrial-sized wind turbines since October of last year, logging tens of hours of testimony from concerned residents and state experts.

Snapshot 1 (6-25-2013 2-56 PM)

Tom Bouchard is Planning Board Chairman

Late last month, the Planning Board decided to get in on the action and moved for a public hearing on August 8 in hopes of drafting a regulation on shadow flicker.

Monday night, BOH-Chairman Joe Casna rebutted and assured his board that any Planning Board regulation would have “no effect on the current turbines,” but that’s not what Planning Board Chairman Tom Bouchard seemed to indicate on June 25 when reviewing the CEC’s recently-released flicker study…

“I think it will help with what we have in place now,” Bouchard said when speaking about the possibility of a town-wide regulation on shadow flicker. “If there’s a standard and the town has adopted the standard…then I think the [turbine] owners will have to deal with it.”

Bouchard’s June 25 statements seemed to be in line with the sentiments of Town Planner Tom Bott.

Snapshot 1 (6-26-2013 4-38 PM)

Town Planner Tom Bott

“While a couple of the turbine owners have recommended they’ll buy curtains and blinds for people, I’ve not seen anybody else who thinks that’s a proper mitigation,” Bott said on June 25. “I think…the proper mitigation for excessive flicker is to turn [the turbines] off when you’re in that condition.”

Bouchard and Bott both suggested capping shadow flicker at 30 hours per year, which set off a discussion about flicker from existing turbines.

After reviewing the CEC flicker study, Planning Board-member Bob Gosselin stated that some residences in Kingston “really exceed the time” of exposure to flicker when considering a possible future regulation. “Maybe by not running [the turbines] at that time of the day…it’d solve the problem,” Gosselin suggested at last month’s meeting.

IMG_5259[1]

Kingston BOH-members Bill Watson (left) and Jack Breen (right)

Enter Jack Breen.

“This is a BOH issue, not a Planning Board issue,” Breen said on Monday night. “We might as well get into the zoning game if they’re in the nuisance game.”

Breen continued, calling for a joint meeting between the BOH and the Planning Board to avoid what he called “a divergent approach to this matter.”

BOH-newcomer Toni Cushman agreed.

“They should be working with us,” Cushman said before adding that the two boards should be on the same page.

“Why are we allowing this to go on?” Breen asked his board when referring to the Planning Board’s plans to regulate shadow flicker from wind turbines.

Breen got even more direct in his criticism of the Planning Board and pointed out that there had been “no communication” between Bott’s office and the BOH. “It’s quite likely that we’ll arrive to two different figures here,” Breen added.

Breen then suggested, with agreement from his board, that the BOH author a note to Chairman Bouchard encouraging cooperation between the two public bodies.

A public hearing for shadow-flicker regulation on August 8 has not yet been posted on KingstonMass.org and the next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for August 12.

If flicker regulation were to be adopted by the Planning Board, pending a public hearing, it would be subject to town meeting approval as a warrant article in either the Fall of 2013 or the Spring of 2014.

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  1. Blind Dwarf says:

    Hahaha. Does this interfere with the BOH plan to help the citizens who are suffering from flicker by postponing any action at all indefinitely?

  2. Earth to Joe, and Tom Bott...and... says:

    Quote:
    “BOH-Chairman Joe Casna rebutted and assured his board that any Planning Board regulation would have “no effect on the current turbines,”

    Comment:
    The Planning Board regulation, according to Joe Cansa is for future wind turbines…So, I ask myself why the rush to amend a by-law for “future” wind turbines?

    I ask myself why the planning board (more accurately town planner Tom Bott) is so concerned with “future” turbines…I have to guess he must know that an amended by-law might well apply to current wind turbines…is this true?

    Mr. Casna should know, even if the by-law amendment might be for future turbines, the proposed amendment of allowing “30 hours per year” is only going to result in a new group of residents showing up at future Board of Health meetings asking for relief…Tom Bott’s suggested by law change is as Mr. Breen says “ludicrous”!

    Question #2: Why does Mr. Bott care so much to protect wind turbine operations at the expense of residents?

    Question #3: Why is it Mr. Bott only wants to amend the shadow flicker issue, but has shown no interest in amending setbacks (which would take care of shadow flicker), or noise levels such as limiting decibel levels as so many other communities have done?????

    Question #4: Why didn’t the Planning Board pay attention to the advice they were provided as part of the site plan approval? That information was: “Given that the east and west directions have the longest shadows, setbacks to avoid flicker are longer in those directions. One rule of thumb used by wind consultants is a setback of 10 X Rotor Diameters in affected directions (Bolton, 2007; Ove Arrup and Partners 2004).”

    Observation: 10 X Rotor Diameter for the Independence is just over 2,800 feet.
    Comment: If Mr Bott & Mr. Bouchard had paid attention they would not be amending looking to amend a by-law in a way that protects the turbine operations and NOT our residents.

  3. PUblius says:

    You cannot legally enforce an ex=post facto law. Whatever the standards were when the site plan “from the town” was approved for the turbine that is the rules which the owner of the windmill will maintain they have to abide by. Ironically the requirement that the owner provide the town with a decommissioning bond is all but forgotten in this morass. Please make the owner provide a decommissioning bond and most, if not all, the flicker and noise problems will simply go the way of the dop doo bird.

  4. Wait, wait ... says:

    We at the BOH have been dragging the residents through useless meeting after meeting since last Oct. How dare the Planning Board actually take action?
    Jack Breen .. you’re the one that’s ludicrous. And by the way, you want to get into the zoning game? .. lol. Why so you can grind that to a standstill too?

  5. my name is jack breen and my mission is to antagonize... says:

    BOH member breen has stonewalled and antagonized at every meeting…now he pretends to position the Board of Health as having been front and center with wanting to “help” residents.

    breen is in the health care field but has not contributed in a proactive way to the discussion, why?

  6. CARL says:

    The disfunction of Kingston town government continues!

  7. planning board antics says:

    this planning board attempt to address just 1 problem with the by-law is just plain ridiculous.

    town planner is pushing this limited “fix”…which is not a “fix” at all it is an attempt to have us by law be exposed to a nuisance.

    the board of health has already declared that the strobing is a nuisance, why is Tom Bott trying to weasel through by town vote (look where town vote got us!!! 4 MegaWatt turbines sited right next to neighborhoods and creating havoc!!!)

    town meeting is no place to be setting guidelines for what nuisances residents should be exposed to, that is unless town meeting is set to protect all of us from ANY nuisances down the road…BUT that already is doable at the town level.

    It is the responsibility and obligation of the BOH to eliminate nuisance conditions…if jack breen would just act on that maybe we’d be getting somewhere…

    discussion after discussion after discussion wait for report after report…

    Question: why do we need to wait for a report before determining that the nuisance must end? too simple???