Bourne selectmen voted 4-0 Wednesday night to call a May 9 Special Town Meeting to accommodate Buzzards Bay and Bournedale residents, who are trying to amend the zoning bylaw governing turbine review.
The planning board last Thursday night tabled discussion of the citizen-petition warrant article, essentially derailing it from May 2 Annual Town Meeting consideration.
Selectmen stepped in, however, saying they wanted to give the citizens “a second bite of the apple” and provide the elected planners with a second opportunity to conduct a hearing into the zoning amendment.
The planning board will conduct a May 6 hearing. Members have four options. They could endorse the petition or reject it. Either way, the article would be heard May 9. Of they could table the article again, or simply not close the hearing. In that fashion, the article would not be heard May 9 either.
Article 24 is listed in the annual warrant. It will be indefinitely postponed. The article, with the exact verbiage, is transferred to the May 9 special warrant. Revisions to the original petition will not be included. Those will have to come as amendments on town meeting floor, should the item make it to May 9.
Revisions may be necessary for various reasons. The Bourne Planning Department indicates the article as submitted would make construction of turbines, such as those planned by New Generation Wind off Scenic Highway and Route 25, impossible anywhere in Bourne.
Article opponents say the item is a de facto moratorium, and even if approved at town meeting it would not stand scrutiny by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. Town Planner Coreen Moore says any zoning bylaw has to accommodate reasonable adaptability for proposals.
Planning board members, prior to their vote to table last week, said they did not have time to “digest” the latest revisions to the original article, let alone consider impacts an amended zoning bylaw would create.
Offering amendments from town meeting floor could confuse voters, who last year overwhelmingly approved a wind energy conversion bylaw. Article supporters say that bylaw, however, was never discussed with industrial-grade turbines in mind.
Selectmen, hoping to avoid further procedural obstacles and save the town some money, directed Town Administrator Thomas Guerino to instruct Town Counsel Robert Troy to attend the planning board’s May 6 hearing.
The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Community Center. Selectmen said the May 9 special session might not be expensive if the annual town meeting continues into a second week. If the annual dissolves, however, conducting the special session would cost taxpayers $2,500 to $3,000.
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