WESTPORT – Select board Chairwoman Veronica Beaulieu said on Oct. 22 she wanted to “apologize to voters” for the “disaster” and “embarrassment” of an Oct. 9 selectmen’s meeting on the proposed Town Hall wind turbine.
Ms. Beaulieu said Ronald DiPippo, chairman of the Dartmouth’s Alternative Energy Committee, who cast doubts on the viability of Westport’s proposed wind turbine, was “rudely treated” by wind turbine advocates.
Mr. DiPippo was asked to the Oct. 9 meeting to explain why he criticized the proposal for a wind turbine in Westport. He reportedly said the 10 kilowatt, 120-foot turbine is not large enough and will not produce enough energy in that location.
Wind turbine proponents, including David Dionne, refuted his claims in a letter to the editor in Shorelines. Holding signs, they demonstrated outside Town Hall before the Oct. 9 meeting.
When an overflow crowd arrived for the meeting, Ms. Beaulieu refused a request to move to a larger room in the basement.
Turbine advocates then stood in the hallway. Ms. Beaulieu said others “invited themselves to the employee lunchroom” where they ate “refrigerator items and left the room in disarray.” The “lunchroom” on that floor is often used as a meeting room and has a large conference table. People often congregate there while waiting for executive sessions to end or for their issue to come up on an agenda.
Ms. Beaulieu criticized the newspaper coverage of the Oct. 9 meeting, including editorials that said selectmen were overturning a Town Meeting vote.
At last May’s annual Town Meeting, the wind turbine article passed by 240 votes, winning about 79 percent of those in attendance.
“We’re not obliged to follow Town Meeting,” Ms. Beaulieu said. ” She said the Town Meeting vote “gives us an inclination of what voters want.”
Ms. Beaulieu criticized press accounts that called the 79 percent margin of victory “overwhelming.” She said Westport has a population of more than 15,000 including more than 10,800 voters. Of that, 79 percent would equate to 8,500, not 240, she said.
“I don’t feel that I had any mandate,” she said of the vote at Town Meeting.
Ms. Beaulieu said it is her responsibility as an elected official to do what is best for the town regardless of a Town Meeting vote.
Most of the selectmen present did go ahead and sign a contract on Monday with Steve Pitney of Alternative Energy in Plymouth. Ms. Beaulieu said she is satisfied now that he has provided guarantees.
She added that she wanted to sign the contract right then, not later as scheduled in the meeting, “and put it to bed. We do have other things to be concerned with.”
Selectmen Gary Mauk refused to sign it. “I’m not going to sign the contract because I’ve been against it from the beginning,” Mr. Mauk said. He said if the wind turbine “fails,” he does not want his name on a contract approving it.
By Peggy Aulisio
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding