ORLEANS – On the first day in court Tuesday in the Aquacultural Research Corporation vs. Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Commission suit, Judge Brian Merrick rejected the OKH’s arguments and granted the Dennis selectmen’s motion to intervene.
Attorney Leslie-Ann Morse, representing the OKH Commission, argued, “The town of Dennis is trying to impose its interpretation on the [OKH] Act,” but Merrick disagreed. “Since you are dealing with a decision made by their town’s committee, why shouldn’t they intervene?” he asked.
ARC has appealed the OKH Commission’s annulment of the Dennis OKH Committee’s decision to grant a certificate of appropriateness to ARC to construct a 234-foot, 600 kw wind turbine on its property adjacent to Chapin Beach in Dennis.
Dennis resident Rosemarie Austin appealed the local decision, moving the case to the regional OKH Commission, which on a 3-1-1 vote overturned the local committee’s decision. After ARC filed a court appeal, Dennis filed a motion to intervene in order to question the Commission’s authority to deny the project based on objections stated at the hearing.
ARC Attorney John Kenney Merrick called ARC the aggrieved party. “We contend that the decision of the Commission was arbitrary, capricious and biased.” Kenney said Sandwich OKH representative Patricia McArdle’s decision was based on Water Protection Act issues that are not within OKH purview; Richard Gegenwarth of Yarmouth suggested that ARC should use geothermal, not wind energy; and Patricia Anderson of Barnstable protested the turbine based on how its appearance would affect historic buildings, places and sites and cited Cape Cod Community College’s failed turbine project.
Kenney insisted that these reasons constitute “opinion.”
Merrick said there will be no amendments to the testimony recorded at the Sept. 28 Commission hearing of the case.
Morse requested a pre-trial hearing, pushing for later rather than sooner so she has time to prepare. “The town’s presence changes the scope,” she said.
“What do you mean?” Merrick asked.
“They filed a complaint,” Morse said. “From what I read in what the town has filed, they intend to broaden the case.
Dennis Attorney Michele Randazzo disagreed. “We do not intend to broaden the case,” she said.
After agreeing with Randazzo, Merrick set clear boundaries. “The pleadings are not being changed at all,” he said. “[The town of Dennis] can address issues raised in appeal, but they can’t raise new issues.”
A second hearing is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, May 19 in Orleans District Court.
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