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Stretch Energy Code defeated, Green Community movement dealt blow

While many articles at Tuesday’s Special Town Meeting passed easily, and in many cases unanimously, the same could not be said for the Stretch Energy Code, which was defeated in a 47-44 vote.

The defeat of the Stretch Energy Code, Article 6, came after about a half-hour of spirited debate. Speaking in favor of the article were Green Committee Chairman Ann Marie Stronach and committee members Jim Duffy and Robert Fowler.

Through adoption of the Stretch Energy Code, as 47 other towns have done, would voluntarily toughen existing state energy efficiency requirements on new construction and major renovation projects. It is one of five criteria that must be met in order for the town to earn the status of “Green Community” and thus be eligible for additional energy grants from the state.

“I want people to understand that this is ablout sustainability within our community,” said Stronach. “And what we are doing is preserving sustainability for the future of our kinds, my kids.”

Opposition to the article was led by Robert Scarano, a local attorney and builder, and Warren Carey. Both spoke about the additional costs the Stretch Energy Code would place on new home builders, as well as residents looking to renovate or add on to their homes.

Scarano also said the code was just another example of big government trying to impose its will on individual citizens. He said energy efficiency decisions should be left to the individual.

“Losing that free choice is what I object to,” said Scarano. “Because if you maintain the current building code, you have a choice. You can elect to comply with the stretch code. You can chose to comply with the stretch code. But you are not compelled to comply with the stretch code.”

When the time came for a vote, the “No’s” had to be counted twice, as there was a question as to whether the first count was accurate. The final tally was 47-44 against. Stronach said later that the vote did not kill the Stretch Energy Code or the Green Community effort in Tewksbury.

“We will just continue to move forward and we’ll bring it back again in the spring (at Annual Town Meeting),” said Stronach. “We just have to do a better job getting the information out and getting the facts out to the public.”