The lights went out on the Special Town Meeting Monday night, but when power was restored Citizens for Responsible Energy and their supporters successfully amended Bourne’s turbine regulation by a 359-131 showing, 33 votes more than was needed for a two-thirds majority. The vote ended a chaotic evening in cheers.
The session was filled with parliamentary maneuvering from the start, which continued to the point of chaos at 9 p.m. when a vehicle struck a Sandwich Road utility pole, causing a fire and prompting Nstar to kill the electric power to the area.
Moderator Robert Parady quickly called a recess until power was restored, but then police and fire officials said public safety could become a factor with no lights inside and outside Bourne High School.
The resulting give-and-take between the floor and the stage was caustic at points and both confusing and animated at others. Debate was terminated, but there was discussion about whether the meeting had been duly recessed and when it should be continued.
Attorney Lee Berger argued that no vote should be taken given that many voters had left the auditorium during the power outage and that the zoning-amendment issue was “too important to vote” given the circumstances; and “unfair” as well.
Town Clerk Barry Johnson, Sergeant At Arms Richard Silvestro of the police department and Town Counsel Robert Troy all supported Parady’s attempts to maintain procedural order, explain procedures and process conflicting parliamentary calls during the confusion. It was government by flashlight for a short while.
When lights came back on, voters at 9:35 voted 358-77 to reconsider the motion to recess the meeting. This left a secret ballot vote that had earlier been requested by New Generation Wind principal Tudor Ingersoll of Buzzards Bay.
The voting started at 9:45 and concluded at 10:04 p.m. The voting was orderly.
The amended turbine regulation will not impact New Generation wind-farm plans off Scenic Highway and Route 25. New Generation late on Friday afternoon had submitted a preliminary subdivision plan to Town Clerk Johnson’s office, essentially locking in current zoning for its property for up to eight years.
Town Counsel Troy had ruled the preliminary plan allows the New Generation land to be governed by applicable provisions of town zoning in effect at the time of the submission. Parady said this development makes the effort to preclude turbines in town academic as applied to New Generation Wind’s proposal.
Early in the evening, Richard Conron of Gray Gables urged voters to reject efforts to defeat the bylaw amendment. “One size does not fit all,” he said. “There are some things we can’t do in this town. Commercial wind turbines are one of them.”
Priscilla Koleshis of Monument Beach chastised officials for providing a zoning amendment but not the original bylaw in the town meeting booklets that would have allowed voters to compare language changes and impacts.
Selectman Jamie Sloniecki, a bylaw change proponent, moved for the question before debate began about the proposed amendment. The move was not well received. It failed on a 378-200 showing, seven votes short of the needed two-thirds majority.
Later planning board chairman Chris Farrell asked voters to reject the amendment, saying a revised wind-conversion energy bylaw would eliminate turbines in Bourne, except perhaps for structures that could be placed on houses in the future.
Parady at the end of the evening thanked those voters who remained during the meetings darker moments for their support during “a very difficult situation.”
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