EAST LONGMEADOW – Voters rejected a stretch energy code that would require stricter regulations for contractors building new homes or additions during the continuation of the annual Town Meeting held Monday at East Longmeadow High School. Residents attended the continuation of the May 17 town meeting after the meeting was halted when there was no longer a quorum. Residents voted on Articles 21 through 30 during the meeting rejecting all four articles that would designate the town as a green community. Article 21 asked voters to approve a stretch energy code which would require builders to partner with Energy Star and follow more stringent guidelines for energy efficiency of new homes and additions. Green Committee Chairman James D. Driscoll said the code is very similar if not exactly the same as building codes that will be required in 2012. The only difference, he said , is that if residents approved the article they would be eligible for green community status by the state which would make them eligible for millions of dollars in government grants. Many town residents spoke on the issue saying they do not feel that government should force them to “go green.” William Laplante, a certified green builder in town, said he opposed the article because it would increase the costs of building new homes by up to 10,000 dollars. He said anyone looking to build a home in the town or add an addition to an existing home would find it unaffordable due to the code requirements. Carleen Eve Fischer Hoffman, a Green Committee member in town said the committee researched the code at length for over a year and believe it is the way of the future. She said the cost of updating a new home or addition to the code’s standards would be “marginal” in comparison to the energy saving the home would provide in the long run. She said young families and commercial businesses looking for a progressive green community would be more attracted to the town because of the code. Residents voted against articles 22, 23 and 24 which would change language in the current zoning bylaw to specify certain types of renewable energy the town could allow including solar, hydroelectric and geothermal energy. The change in the bylaw language would help the town achieve a green community status, said Planning Board member George Kingston. Voters also rejected Article 25 which prohibits residents from dumping garbage, sewage, construction waste and other hazardous materials into storm water drains. Board Public Works Chairman Daniel S. Burack said the bylaw is meant to protect the town’s rivers, streams and wetlands. Voters questioned the necessity of the bylaws since the town already has to meet state and federal guidelines for hazardous waste dumping. The town did approve Article 30, a petitioned article that allows contractors to put one sign on the lawns of the homes they are working on. Signs would only be visible during the time the work is being done. Gary Landers a member of the East Longmeadow Small Business Association said the signs are a good advertising method. “Having the signs up helps small businesses in this economy,” he said. The law states that the signs can only be posted if the homeowner allows it. Before the bylaw passed the town did not allow any signs advertising a particular business on lawns in residential zones.
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