The Medfield Energy Committee decided to pull its two articles regarding the Green Communities Act from the Town Meeting warrant this year, committee Chair Marie Nolan said.
Article 30 would have allowed zoning by right for renewable and alternative energy generating, manufacturing, or research and development firms; and Article 31 would have adopted the “Stretch Code,” an energy efficiency requirement for new residential and commercial buildings.
Both articles need to be passed for Medfield to qualify for approval under the Green Communities Act, but there’s a problem with the way the zoning-by-right article was written, Nolan said.
“The as-of-right siting doesn’t meet the requirements for approval under the Green Communities Act,” Nolan said. “We didn’t write it properly, and it’s too restrictive to meet the requirements.”
As it’s currently written, Article 30 allows for zoning by right for only wind, solar or geothermal but excludes other renewable energy generating, manufacturing or research and development facilities such as biomass power conversion or thermal technologies, low impact hydropower, landfill gas, or advanced biofuels.
“We tried to narrow the uses because we thought it would be easier to get approved by the town that way,” Nolan said. “But there’s another problem, too. We only put the siting in existing industrial-intensive zones, but we excluded the business industrial district, and of course, if it’s a research and development firm, we’d want that in the business industrial district.”
The retraction of the articles isn’t to say that the Medfield Energy Committee isn’t interested in pursuing designation as a Green Community or isn’t committed to energy efficiency improvements for the town, Nolan said. Since its induction, the MEC has made significant reductions in Medfield’s energy usage, including replacing the town’s streetlamps with more efficient lights.
“We’re going to take our time to write the by-law properly,” Nolan said. “We want to do the best possible thing because once it’s on the books, it’s on the books.”
Waiting another year to go before Town Meeting has another benefit, Nolan said, allowing the MEC to see whether the GCA is more of a benefit or a burden to towns that have already adopted the requirements.
“There’s a lot of controversy over the Stretch Code,” Nolan said. “There’s no real benefit of passing the Stretch Code now if we can’t get approval under the GCA. If we wait a year, we’ll have the benefit of seeing whether it’s onerous for other towns.”
The MEC will be passing out detailed flyers to explain their decision at Town Meeting on Monday, Nolan said.
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