The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 17, 2009

Should BOS drop wind bylaw from TM Warrant?

At its next meeting on April 28, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) will decide whether or not to include the “Solar Power Generation and Wind Conversion Systems Bylaw,” Article 33, at Town Meeting. The Selectmen decided on April 14 to reconsider this Warrant item based on a request from the Planning Board. Planning Board Chair Greg Peterson wrote an email to the Selectmen explaining the Planning Board’s reasoning (see article, right).

Peterson recounted that the Planning Board “deliberated for nearly two hours per its statutory duty to make a report and recommendation to Town Meeting” on the proposed bylaw. Peterson said the board had still mixed feelings about the bylaw despite meeting with the alternative clean energy committee twice in 2008, once in 2009, and after holding two nights of well-attended public hearings in February and March.

Peterson noted “The Planning Board heard strong opinions from both those who believed the town should provide a means for private, small-scale, wind and solar energy generation and others with deep concerns that the kinds of facilities allowed by special permit under the bylaw as proposed would either be ineffective in Carlisle or pose unacceptable impacts on the quiet residential character of the community.”

Selectman Bill Tice, liaison to the Accessory Alternative Clean Energy Generation Committee, voiced his disappointment that the Planning Board was withdrawing support at this late hour. He said, “We bent over backwards to address their concerns.” He commented that he did not feel there was public opposition as much as Planning Board opposition.

Bob Koning, chairman of the energy committee, said he was “taken aback” by the letter from the Planning Board. He felt that they had “incorporated good suggestions” from the Planning Board and the community, and had done “research on 25 communities.” He felt that the Town Counsel had reviewed the bylaw and although that “didn’t mean that there still might be lawsuits,” the committee had put forward “a bylaw that protects the town.” Koning concluded, “I always thought that boards in a community work together and that didn’t happen here.”

David Freedman, an associate member of the Planning Board, appeared at the Selectmen’s meeting and articulated the group’s concerns. He added “Given that you’re not going to take a position on this tonight, we’re happy to talk with the Selectmen offline.” Freedman noted after the meeting that he wanted to ensure the Selectmen were informed and that he was not trying to curtail public discourse.

“We appreciate hard work that the committee [alternative clean energy] did on this,” said Freedman at the meeting. “Everyone on the Planning Board agrees the greening of Carlisle important.” After summarizing the Planning Board’s position, Freedman cut to the chase: “Is having a bylaw better than not having one?” He emphasized that the Planning Board is not against having a wind bylaw, but just opposed to this iteration. Freedman noted that the Planning Board’s concerns had been communicated at public meetings along the way but not addressed in the final bylaw so that, “It’s extremely unfair to suggest we are bringing this up at the last minute.”

BOS Chair Doug Stevenson brought the discussion to a close with the assurance that the item would be on the meeting agenda for April 28 and that the Selectmen would consider the issue over the next two weeks. He said that while he respects the Planning Board’s points and request for the Selectmen not to move the Article as part of the Town Meeting Warrant, he also had to acknowledge the amount of work the Alternative Energy Committee and the community had invested in the bylaw. As such, Stevenson concluded that not moving the Article is “a step we’re less likely to take.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito