Planning, Conservation panels say mistake gives them less than required 30 days to review before Oct. 6 hearing
SHELBURNE – When the special permit application for an eight-turbine wind farm was filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the town’s Conservation Commission, Planning and Health boards should have all received copies of the application and been given 30 days to review the plan before a public hearing was held, according to Planning Board Chairman V. Matthew Marchese.
But Marchese told selectmen Monday night that neither his board, nor the Conservation Commission had received copies of the application, which was filed on Sept. 6, or been given notice of the permit filing. The public hearing has already been scheduled for Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School.
Marchese told selectmen the town’s zoning bylaw specifies that copies of special permit applications “shall be sent to” those other boards, and that a public hearing should be held after “opportunity for review by the other boards have taken place.”
“The concern I have is, the Planning Board did not receive this,” said Marchese. “I did confirm with the Conservation Commission they did not receive any of the documents,” which included a one-page application and supplemental materials.
“I’m a believer in a process,” said Marchese. “This is a very large potential project, and the process protects us, protects the town. We didn’t have the 30 days to weigh in before the public hearing. The Planning Board would have like the time we’re allowed to do that.”
Selectmen’s Chairman John Payne, a former Planning Board member, said one problem with the bylaw is that it doesn’t specify how all the other boards are to be notified, and it also doesn’t spell out when the 3–day review period starts or ends. He suggested that applicants be asked to give enough copies for all the boards involved when they file for a special permit in the future.
Marchese said he has spoken with the ZBA clerk on a future notification procedure, but was concerned about how this might affect the permit process regarding the Mount Massaemet Windfarm Inc. project. “I don’t want for someone to challenge this (proposal) because we didn’t follow proper procedure,” he said.
“I think Matt has reported the issue publicly,” said Selectman Joseph Judd. “Maybe the ZBA could hold the meeting and elect to continue, pending input from the Conservation Commission, Planning (Board) and Board of Health.
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