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Westport selectmen to discuss Alternative Energy Committee chair’s resignation

WESTPORT – The chairman of a committee tasked with looking into possible alternative energy projects for the town has resigned from that post, charging that some other committee members are trying to derail renewable energy projects in Westport.

David Dionne, a major local proponent of such projects, recently sent a letter to selectmen announcing his intention to resign as chairman of the Alternative Energy Committee, effective immediately.

Dionne cited conflict with new members of the committee, whom he did not name, saying the new, more conservative majority of the selectmen had appointed vocal opponents of the town’s renewable energy endeavors to the committee.

Richard Spirlet, chairman of selectmen, said he was aware of Dionne’s decision to resign, but had not yet read his letter of resignation, and thus declined to comment extensively on it.

However, he said selectmen would be taking up the matter during their regularly scheduled meeting tonight.

One of the allegedly more conservative selectmen elected in the town’s most recent election was Antone Vieira, a former Finance Committee chairman who is now the selectmen’s liaison to the Alternative Energy Committee. Vieira said he had contacted Dionne after the selectmen received his letter and asked him to reconsider his resignation, but to no avail so far.

“My hope is that David will reconsider his decision,” Vieira said. “I can understand his concerns. But I think it’s important to have a diverse (range of opinions) for discussion.”

Vieira said that contrary to what Dionne seems to think, he is not an opponent of alternative energy, or even of installing wind turbines in town. What he questions, he said, is whether the proposed location near the town’s fire station is ideal.

He also said he thought it unfortunate that Dionne had decided to resign after just one meeting of the current Alternative Energy Committee.

In explaining his frustration to the selectmen, Dionne alleged that new members of the committee had already begun attacking the work of the consultant previously hired for the project, noting that the feasibility study for the wind turbine project had been approved by a clear majority at town meeting.