BREWSTER – The planning board is not in favor of special town meeting Article 5, proposed by the board of selectmen, which would bypass the planning board by not requiring a special permit for municipal wind turbines in the town industrial zone. Not too surprising, but the vote (3 to 4 in favor of recommending the bylaw) was closer than might be expected. The planning board effectively denied (by an indecisive 3-3-1 vote) the town’s twin turbine proposal earlier this year.
“We’re an elected board, too. I don’t think this article is appropriate. If you start with this article why not come back next year if we don’t go your way on solar or something else and do the same thing again?” said planning board member John McMullen. “You’re basically going around this board’s responsibilities by presenting this article.”
“I resent the idea that this is a power play,” said Ed Lewis, selectmen chairman. “I felt it was right to go back to the legislative body (town meeting) rather than have three or four members of the community deny the project.”
The town opted for this approach rather than hiring attorneys and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an appeal, Town Administrator Charles Sumner explained.
“In my judgment the planning board ignored the thought process of every other board in town,” Lewis said.
Others thought the planning board did it just right.
“When we give testimony we want it to be heard and are comments taken into consideration,” explained Mitch Relin, president of Brewster Citizens for Responsible Energy. “Your board [planning] was the only board in town that looked at the details and you were the only one that had due diligence. CVEC didn’t appeal because you didn’t go beyond the scope of your authority.”
“Article five as proposed is an outrage and a disservice to you,” he added.
“We have two boards with different feelings, both duly elected,” Peter Johnson countered. “It’s absolutely legitimate and playing within the rules. Any citizen can put forward a zoning bylaw.”
“What concerns me most is this would strip abutter rights away,” planning member Bob Bugle noted.
Elbert Uleshoeffer pointed out that if the board didn’t take a vote the article couldn’t go before the town meeting but they voted with Bugle (despite reservations), John Leaning and Elizabeth Taylor to recommend the article and Bob Barnard, McMullen, Rich Kuzman and Scott Collum against.
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