The Special Town Meeting, which was held Monday at Milton High School, approved all four Warrant items, and essentially signed off on the town’s involvement in the Green Communities Program by passing two articles that made the town meet all five requirements for participation.
Article One, the adoption of the Stretch Energy Code, went through the greatest discussion and ended with the closest vote of the evening; a 99 to 68 standing vote to ensure a majority.
Milton is the 47th community in the Commonwealth to adopt the code, joining Quincy, Dedham, Lexington and Brookline among others.
Caitriona Cooke, a member of the Technical Assistance Team, gave a presentation on the Stretch Code prior to the discussion. The code, which is different for new construction and renovations, applies checklists to areas such as duct work and insulation.
Cooke explained that new construction makes up .02 percent of permits in Milton, with just eight new projects in two years. The less stringent specifications apply to renovations, which happen more frequently. In FY2010, 853 building permits for renovations were taken out.
Concerns over the perception that the new code would force people to be energy efficient led the debate.
“I say there are countless negatives to be brought up here,” said Town Meeting member Gene Irwin, who cited cost, funding issues and the fact the standards could be come stricter every year among other things.
Bill White, from Precinct 6, rose to speak on what he expected to be a “slam dunk” article.
“We have a proposal to make our homes more energy efficient and save money,” said White.
Warrant Committee Chair Ewan Innes also rose to support the committee’s recommendation before the vote. He reminded Town Meeting that a “No” vote would preclude Milton from a share of $10 million of funding it would otherwise not have access to.
“I want to be clear to Town Meeting here tonight,” Innes said. “If you do not vote for this, which is your right, you are not accepting the Green Communities Act.”
A close vote then led to a standing vote, which approved the article.
The other item that received some discussion was Article Three, the final piece to the Green Communities Act. The proposed article included new language to the town’s zoning bylaws regarding wind turbines, which was adopted by Town Meeting in May 2009.
The biggest change, moved the permitting process out of the hands of the Planning Board to the Building Inspector with oversight coming from the Board of Selectmen.
Planning Board Chair Alexander Whiteside said the Planning Board’s involvement in these permits is not necessary, calling it duplicative.
A handful of friendly amendments were proposed and accepted regarding the language of the six-point bylaw change, but these were adopted more for clarity than meaning.
The article eventually passed with a nearly unanimous “Yes” vote.
Town Meeting also voted to accept a change to the zoning bylaws to restrict accessory structures within 30 feet of the rear lot line to a height of 20 feet. The article, which was created to add clarity to the bylaws and keep the town out of court fighting such structures, was accepted with no additional discussion.
The final item was the approval of beer and wine license for Ichiro Sushi in East Milton Square. The near unanimous vote will now begin the process before the Selectmen and the General Court for the restaurant owner to serve alcohol.
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