February 14, 2012

Wind farm lawyer wants two agency members to recuse themselves

Bourne Courier, www.wickedlocal.com 14 February 2012

BOURNE – New Generation Wind attorney Diane Tillotson on Feb. 2 sent an electronic message to Cape Cod Commission Chairman Peter Graham, asking that voting members Roger Putnam of Wellfleet and Michael Blanton of Bourne recuse themselves from agency consideration of the turbine project north of the canal and any upcoming vote on the project.

Tillotson cited Putnam’s remarks from Feb. 2011 embracing his “clear and stated prejudice against our project.” The attorney also referenced direction afforded Blanton by Bourne selectmen in late 2010 in terms of the town’s representative to the commission being given “clear and unequivocal direction” to vote against the wind farm project.

Putnam recused himself from the Feb. 2 commission hearing in Barnstable, saying he supports the agency’s sub-committee draft decision to reject the New Generation proposal.

Blanton, a Monument Beach resident, did not recuse himself on Feb. 2. “I will not be recusing,” he said Monday morning..

Tillotson in her notice to Graham, noted that regardless of Putnam’s ability “to put aside personal prejudices” and despite Blanton’s possible ability to disregard the sentiment of the board of selectmen that appointed him to the commission, the public record taints the wind farm hearing proceedings.

Tillotson’s request adds a measure of complexity to a hearing by the commission that is being closely watched by state environmental and public health officials as well as well-prepared and organized opponents of the New Generation wind-farm proposal; with all of its twists and procedural turns.

Selectman’s view

Bourne Selectmen Chairman Donald Pickard last Thursday said that after reading Tillotson’s message he thought Blanton should indeed recuse himself from the New Generation review.

Later, however, Pickard said he changed his mind and told Blanton that “he should vote any way he wanted. This is not to say he will recuse himself. I believe that too is his decision.”

Pickard and former Selectwoman Mary Meli in 2010 abstained from a board vote to oppose the increasingly controversial wind-farm project. “My reason for abstaining was that the vote was strictly ceremonial,” Pickard said. “The project had not been before the planning board or Cape Cod Commission.

“The board inserted itself into a process that it had no business being in,” Pickard said. “Additionally, I do not believe the board of selectmen should have taken this vote. The board’s vote added a layer of “politics” to a regulatory process that that the board had no regulatory authority in.”

Pickard in reply to a Courier query, however, said he does not recall Bourne selectmen – as Tillotson claims – giving Blanton ‘clear and unequivocal direction’ to vote against the wind farm plan. “I do not recall that specific directive,” Pickard said.

The selectman said he relies on the town’s representative to the land-use planning agency to fairly evaluate all projects arriving at the commission. Pickard also said he does not find turbines particularly offensive, but he also said “there are no plans to put one near my home.”

Pickard said his position in all of this stems from his sentiment that Bourne selectmen “had no valid reason to insert itself into the regulatory process.”

Blanton, meanwhile, serves on the commission’s sub-panel that reviewed the New Generation proposal and recommended that the full voting membership reject the wind-farm application.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/02/14/wind-farm-lawyer-wants-two-agency-members-to-recuse-themselves/