Bourne Selectman Jamie Sloniecki took public issue Tuesday night with comments made by the town’s energy coordinator and an energy advisory committee member during a recent planning board hearing into a citizen-petition warrant article asking voters to amend the zoning bylaw governing review of turbines.
Sloniecki said Energy Coordinator Richard Elrick of Barnstable and Paul O’Keefe of Monument Beach, a member of the energy panel, identified themselves in those roles at the planning hearing, instead of as “private citizens.”
Sloniecki said members of committees appointed by selectmen, before they make public comments on issues before the community, should first provide their sentiment to the appointing authority.
“No committee members should give their opinions in hearings until they bring them to the appointing authority,” he said. “It’s not in their purview or their charge to speak about Article 24 in the warrant.”
The selectman also took issue with the way the public hearing into the citizen-petition article was conducted by planning board chairman Chris Farrell. Both Elrick and O’Keefe voiced their support for wind energy and criticized efforts to expand setbacks from turbines to the point that the structures could not be situated as planned. Sloniecki said it appeared proponents were afforded more time than project opponents.
Farrell this past winter filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Ethics Commission, suggesting that Sloniecki, because he is friendly with a subdivision developer who would be impacted by the controversial New Generation Wind turbines proposal, should excuse himself from board discussions about the project, which is before Cape Cod Commission review.
The state ethics board sided with Sloniecki, who is taking an increasingly public role in opposition to New Wind and its proposed seven turbines that would measure nearly 495 feet high off Scenic Highway and Route 25.
He said Monday night he is “concerned” about O’Keefe serving on the energy panel and unsure about Elrick’s town role in providing turbine opinions. Elrick is a half-time town employee.
O’Keefe is in charge of turbine operations on the Massachusetts Maritime Academy campus and is generally considered in the community as an expert on wind-energy systems.
Selectmen will discuss the New Generation Wind proposal, and perhaps community opposition to it, April 19. Energy advisory members will be invited to the session along with Elrick to discuss their responsibilities.
The energy committee has been studying the wind-farm proposal and accommodating sentiment about opposition to it. Members may want to offer a recommendation to selectmen.
The planning board will continue its hearing into the citizen-petition warrant article April 14 at 7 p.m. in the Main Street Community Center.
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