Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
In the August 21 edition of this paper, I spoke of the violation of my rights as a private citizen. Now it seems that I have no rights as a member of the public. At least that was true at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission public hearing on Oct. 4 for obtaining feedback on the draft of the Wind Energy Plan. Even though the MVC invited comments from the public on its website, through phone conversations, and repeatedly throughout the hearing, the first order of business once the meeting was opened to public comment was to say they would not read my two-and-a-half-page letter. It was not for lack of time as Douglas Sederholm, who chaired the hearing, commented, “We’ve had more time than we usually do,” and joked that there were only two people “who want to say anything from the public.” So where does that leave me? Persona non grata. Where does it leave my letter? Censored.
Perhaps Mr. Sederholm, who was among those who labored hard to bring about the draft, did not want the public to hear even the first paragraph of my letter which said: “If your attention gets no further than this paragraph, please take to heart that this Draft of the Wind Energy Plan should not move forward one inch without clear and strong protections for neighbors’ health and for the use, enjoyment, and value of their property.”
Instead of reading a single word of my letter, Mr. Sederholm noted that I “[objected] to three specific sections,” and he gave a one-line “summary” of my letter which somehow had me concerned about how specific performance standards were needed to implement the overall objective I wanted deleted. (For a true representation, he could have just read my comment cited below.)
I am grateful to the Gazette for including a portion of my letter (handed out to the press after the hearing) in its article, but there are further concerns with the draft that the Vineyard should have heard at the hearing and through the video on MVTV.
I urge readers to evaluate the overall objectives and performance standards in sections 6.2.2 , 6.3.2. and 8.2.2. Even though the Wind Energy Plan speaks loftily about the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard and its valuable tourism and the need to protect these, it goes on to include language that can be ruinous to the Island community. Your financial detriment is acceptable to the Wind Energy Plan; so are light and shadows racing across your living room walls, and sound disturbances and declining property values (which are not even to be considered). This is all in the plan. The only questionable aspects are how much of each negative effect are “reasonable” or “significant” and who will decide for you what is a reasonable disturbance upon you.
For example, the overall objective in 8.2.2 says: “Development of wind turbines, as with other types of land uses, should not be at the unreasonable financial detriment of other landowners.”
My unread letter asked: How is it possible that the word “unreasonable” is included in the Overall Objective? How can there be any financial detriment imposed on other land owners that is not compensated? How is any detriment “reasonable”? Who decides what is reasonable or unreasonable?
Please find my letter on the MVC website (posted on the Calendar, Oct. 4, “Wind Plan Correspondence Schlesinger”) for more important comment on the draft.
Barbara Schlesinger, Chilmark and Malvern, Pa.