Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals took two actions regarding wind turbines late last night. Board members voted to hire a separate attorney for counsel in a case involving the town-owned turbine and to send a letter to the Falmouth Planning Board expressing outrage and disappointment at how the regulations of future turbines are being handled by that board.
The town-owned turbine hearing began earlier this month after residents appealed the building commissioner’s decision that the turbine did not need a special permit because it is a municipal project.
Town Counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. Represented the town in that hearing, so zoning board members said they did not feel Mr. Duffy or Acting Town Manager Heather B. Harper could offer impartial advice.
The only three member of the board involved in that hearing who were at the meeting late last night were Dennis M. Murphy, Patricia P. Johnson and Ronald H. Erickson.
“We can’t ask Frank Duffy and we can’t ask Heather Harper,” Mr. Murphy said. The other board members agreed and voted to hire an outside attorney who specializes in municipal land use.
The attorney, Mark Bobrowski, is a professor of administrative law, land use, local government, and property, at New England Law/Boston. He is the author of the “Handbook of Massachusetts Land Use and Planning Law” and has written extensively on issues affecting municipal government, according to his biography on the institution’s website. He is scheduled to be on leave from the university during spring 2011.
The three board members voted unanimously to hire Mr. Bobrowski for an amount not to exceed $1,500. Board members Kenneth H. Foreman and Patricia J. Favulli are also voting members in that hearing, but were not at the meeting last night.
The board will continue the hearing about the town-owned turbine off Blacksmith Shop Road on January 20.
In the other matter, board of appeals members again expressed outrage and disappointment that the planning board voted earlier this month to recommend turbines be declared a District of Critical Planning Concern on the Upper Cape and to draft a moratoria bylaw for the turbines in Falmouth.
This summer at two joint meetings between the board of appeals and the planning board, both of those options were discussed, but the boards voted instead to continue their discussions.
“How can they flip-flop like that?” asked Mr. Murphy. “That is 180 degrees from what we voted to do this summer. They want to wash their hands of it. It’s embarrassing.”
Chairman Matthew J. McNamara, who left the room during the discussion of the town-owned turbine matter because he stepped down from that hearing, said the moratoria would be retroactive to January.
Mr. Erickson said he supported writing the planning board a letter letting them know their feelings on the matter.
“This isn’t about wind,” Mr. Murphy said. “This is about procedure.”
Mr. McNamara said both boards had agreed to hold a joint meeting to continue the discussion, but planning board members decided on the change “in their wisdom.”
“I’m not sure wisdom is the right word,” Mr. Murphy said. “But they have every right to handle it whatever way the want – they’re the planning board. I just felt that we should have discussed it.”
Board of appeals members voted unanimously to send the letter expressing disappointment.
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