May 1, 2011

Cohasset approves bylaw amendments

By Kristen Walsh, Wicked Local Cohasset, 30 April 2011

Cohasset – Town meeting voters on Saturday approved a $3 million dollar sewer program in an effort to meet a state mandated overhaul of 250 septic systems in town.

The vote authorizes the town to borrow the money from the state, interest-free, and allow residents who have to replace, improve, or connect their septic system to the town’s sewer system to apply for low interest loans.

Voters questioned the risk of non-payment by those who take out the loans, as well as the fact that the spending was never reviewed by the capital budget committee.

Homeowners would pay the town through betterment assessments. The town could place a lien on property in the event loans are not repaid, officials said.

Ultimately, voters approved the program, faced with a summer 2012 state deadline to connect 250 homes to the town’s system, along with penalties of $25,000 a day if the town fails to take action.

“It seems to be a program which can help a lot of people in the community who are under deadline and suffering from hardships because of the state mandate,” selectmen Chairman Karen Quigley said.

Voters also approved town bylaw amendments affecting proposed wind energy projects.

Two major wind energy projects that have come before the planning board in recent years. One was denied. The other was approved, but Cohasset and Hingham residents are appealing the board’s decision.

The bylaw amendments approved Saturday place restrictions on lighting, noise, and height of wind turbines in the towns.

Some voters argued that the changes would essentially stop future projects. Others said the measures would make residents more comfortable with the idea of wind turbines in Cohasset.

Planning board members told voters about their struggle with the issue. They said they have been personally threatened and had to have police stationed at forums on wind projects.

Alternative Energy Committee member Andrew Willard asked residents to vote against the bylaw changes.

“I feel like these laws should be stricken from the books, because as much as the town says they want wind (energy), few people want it near their homes,” Willard said.

Voters approved a town budget operating budget of $33.38 million for the spending year that begins July 1. They also approved spending $159,228 in Community Preservation Act money for a new slate roof at the Paul Pratt Memorial Library.

Voters defeated a motion to stop mailing special town meeting warrants to all residents, because of fear that people would not be notified about the meetings.

They approved a bylaw change that would allow town officials to hold the annual town meeting in March, April or May.

Published as: TOWN MEETING: Sewer program gets go-ahead

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