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Raucus opposition shuts down Brewster turbine meeting  

Credit:  By Rich Eldred, Cape Codder, www.wickedlocal.com 7 January 2011 ~~

BREWSTER – Opponents to the proposed twin turbines in Brewster huffed and puffed hard enough Tuesday evening to prompt organizers to cancel an informational meeting at Brewster Baptist Church.

“I wanted to give the message clearly that we disagreed with the format and we were not going to participate,” explained Mitch Relin of Brewster Citizens for Responsible Energy. “The choice to close the meeting was theirs, not ours.”

A continuous protest at the meeting’s opening led Liz Argo, a consultant for Cape and Vineyard Electric Co-operative, who was overseeing the presentation for CVEC, to terminate the event less than nine minutes after it was to begin.

“We’ve done the debate thing,” Argo explained. “The (public) hearings are an opportunity for people to make statements. That’s not the intent of these informational meetings. If we allow them to take the floor, they co-opt the meeting and the public learns nothing.”

Town and CVEC officials were invited by the church to present information on the plan to lease land from the town for two turbines off Freeman’s Way.
“When we started the meeting, Jim Rogers (of Sandwich) stood up and asked why we weren’t presenting the other side and we said it was not the purpose of the meeting,” Argo said.

Another audience member made the same point. A church representative asked them to sit or the meeting wouldn’t start. There was a “five-minute standoff,” according to Argo.

“If this can’t be conducted politely, according to our specifics, we will not have the meeting,” she said she told the audience. “That’s when Mitch Relin came forward with a cardboard poster that said, ‘Why aren’t you allowing for open discussion?’ He got extremely vocal and he wouldn’t stop yelling.”

“I identified myself and gave a brief reason why we objected to the format. My last sentence was, ‘We see no value in participating in this format,’” Relin said.

It was right about then that Argo canceled the meeting.

The meeting had the same format as one held Dec. 22 at Brewster Ladies’ Library. CVEC and town officials were invited by the Unitarian Church (which is under reconstruction) to make a presentation. Audience members wrote questions on index cards.

“But there was no opportunity for give and take or challenges or contradictions to the information they gave in answers,” Relin pointed out. “We saw a real lack of open discussion.”

He felt that since town officials were there (two selectmen), the meeting should have presented both sides.

“When you have members of the board of selectmen and town there, it would seem to me given there is clearly a different viewpoint, and the selectmen are there to represent the views of the town, not just CVEC’s, they should also include voices of opposition in the community,” Relin explained.

But Argo said opponents such as Windwise or Brewster citizens have the same opportunity and have been invited to hold a forum in town.

“We were going to run it as controlled as we did at the library. We did it purposely because we knew if we turned it into a debate it would be nothing more and no real information would be passed,” Argo said. “It would just be ‘He said, she said.’”

Selectmen were authorized to pursue the project by two town meeting votes. A public hearing was held Sept. 13 during which no Brewster residents voiced opposition. Opponents did speak out at a planning board hearing in November but the planning board permit is the last one needed to go forward. They meet to resume the hearing Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 6:30 p.m.

“The fact that it is late in the process does not mean concerns should be minimalized. Facts are facts. Issues are issues,” Relin said.

Source:  By Rich Eldred, Cape Codder, www.wickedlocal.com 7 January 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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