A number of ethical and political questions have arisen in the wake of both review of the New Generation Wind turbine proposal and the Town Meeting vote amending Bourne’s wind turbine bylaws.
Those issues—raised by people on both sides of this often-contentious topic of discussion—will be explored over the next few months as the Cape Cod Commission, Bourne Planning Board, Bourne Board of Health and others weigh in on both the Bournedale proposal and on turbine effects, in general.
On Tuesday of this week, looking toward the New Generation Wind review process, Nightingale Pond Estates resident Mitchell D. McClain filed three complaints with the Massachusetts Ethics Commission. The complaints name Bourne Planning Board Chairman Christopher J. Farrell, planning board member Daniel L. Doucette, and Barry J. Motta, the president of the Bourne Financial Development Corporation (BFDC).
Mr. McClain said he filed the three complaints with the support of others, all of whom, he said, are acting as individuals and not as members of any group,
Two of the complaints allege that Mr. Farrell and Mr. Doucette, who are members of the BFDC’s board of directors, as well as sitting on the planning board, have a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed before they commented on the New Generation Wind project.
New Generation Wind, LLC, has filed for a permit from the Bourne Planning Board for its proposed Bournedale wind turbine project. The merits of that project, however, have not as yet come before that board for a substantive review. The project was, instead, the subject of a mandatory referral to the Cape Cod Commission as a development of regional impact.
Mr. McClain wants the ethics commission to look at any conflicts, past or future.
Asked to comment on the complaint, Mr. Farrell said he did not think there was a conflict, but said he would welcome the ethics commission’s opinion on the matter.
Currently, the Bourne Financial Development Corporation is proposing the creation of a green technology and scientific research campus, as opposed to an industrial park, on property owned by the Ingersoll family and others.
A limited liability corporation called the Bourne Development Campus was created to allow a collaboration between the owners of the Bournedale property and the Bourne Financial Development Corporation. The BFDC can, by law, only use any profit earned by that collaboration on behalf of the Town of Bourne.
At least one of the Bournedale property owners, Tudor G. (Jerry) Ingersoll, is a principal of New Generation Wind. If and when its turbines are constructed, New Generation Wind is slated to be one of the first tenants of the technology park.
Mr. Motta, the subject of Mr. McClain’s third complaint, serves as a member of both the BFDC and the BDC, making him a member of the for-profit collaboration.
Mr. McClain hopes the ethics commission will look at that collaboration with an eye toward conflict of interest law.
The Bourne Financial Development Corporation is an independent, nonprofit corporation whose establishment was approved by Town Meeting voters in 2000. It was officially created by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature and was organized and began operating in 2002.
Its mission is to “promote the common good and general welfare of the town of Bourne and to improve the living standards of its citizens by fostering the improvement and development of employment and educational opportunities.”
It is governed by a 15-member board of directors, three appointed by the Bourne Board of Selectmen and the others elected by BFDC members.
The BFDC board approved the creation of a collaboration between the BFDC and the BDC in 2008. At the time, that board heard that control of the new corporation, and thus the campus, if and when it was developed, would be split, with 51 percent in the hands of the BFDC and 49 percent in the hands of the Ingersoll family and other property owners.
Mr. McClain said he worried whether, as a managing member of a for-profit corporation, Mr. Motta had any conflict of interest.
Mr. Motta, the former superintendent of the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, said he would have to see what conflict the complainants saw before could make a comment on the issue. He said the BFDC members were volunteers, and put their time into projects like the green technology campus and the plans for downtown Buzzards Bay for the benefit of the town.
Given its work on the town’s wastewater issues and plans for Bourne’s downtown, the latter of which resulted in the creation of new Downtown District zoning for Buzzards Bay, the BFDC has coordinated considerably with the town’s planning board and planning department personnel. Because Bourne has no office of economic development, the BFDC, a nonprofit, has acted in that capacity. That has meant that the BFDC and town planners have worked closely together. He reiterated that the BFDC and the Bourne Development Campus are separate from New Generation Wind.
Mr. McClain is hoping that the ethics commission can determine whether there should be more separation between the two, and whether the BFDC’s collaboration in a for-profit venture is problematic.
After a question that had been raised several months ago by Mr. Farrell, the ethics commission previously rejected the idea that Selectman Jamie J. Sloniecki’s friendship with one of the project’s abutters created a conflict of interest that should have prevented him from being very outspoken against the New Generation Wind projects.
That opinion notwithstanding, several citizens, including zoning board Chairman Lee M. Berger, have criticized his actions at the town’s May 9 Special Town Meeting in calling for the end to debate, and a quick vote, on the amendments to the wind turbine bylaw that came before voters on that date.
Proponents of the project have complained that, even though that call for the question failed, and the debate continued, it was later renewed and citizens did not get to see the town’s evaluation of the effects of the proposed amendments before they approved them.
Town Planner Coreen V. Moore and Engineering Technician Dody Adkins-Perry had evaluated the effects of those amendments, creating four maps showing where neighborhood, commercial, and industrial-sized turbines can be placed under the new rules. Those maps were not displayed at Town Meeting, a fact that still rankles project proponents.
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