SHELBURNE – A wind turbine ban and/or a moratorium, a new police cruiser, and changing dates and times for annual election and annual town meeting are among the issues up for annual town meeting vote on May 1, upstairs in Memorial Hall, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
If voters agree, the starting time for annual town meeting could be changed to 7 p.m. next year, giving townspeople an earlier start to what often is a very late evening.
Also, town officials will be asking to change town bylaws, so that the town’s annual election would be held the third Monday in May, instead of in June. Town Clerk Beverly Neeley hopes more voters would come out for the election in May, before summer vacations start for many residents.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in July represents an $800 decrease over the current $3,446,317 annual budget (a drop of about 1.2 percent). In the budget proposal, general government costs will go up about 5.6 percent, with more money to be budgeted for legal expenses that may be needed by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, in their respective tasks to create a wind-turbine siting bylaw and to review a special permit application for a four wind-turbine electricity generating facility.
Also, the town’s costs for the senior services will increase from $52,600 to $66,355, when Colrain withdraws from the four-town Shelburne Senior Center, beginning July.
After the financial articles have been voted, residents will deliberate on warrant articles proposed by residents to exclude commercial-scale wind turbine facilities from town bylaws that allow electricity generating facilities in all areas of town through special permits. That proposed bylaw change would allow for smaller turbines, adequate for residential or small businesses.
And the Planning Board is seeking annual town meeting approval for a one-year moratorium, to give the board time to research wind-turbine issues and to create a bylaw suited to the town’s needs. However, a 6-megawatt, four wind-turbine facility proposed for Mount Massaemet was submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals before the moratorium was proposed, so that application would go through the existing special permit process.
Other warrant articles include:
• Spending $35,000 from the “municipal vehicle replacement account” to purchase a new police cruiser.
• Spending up to $50,000 from the town’s stabilization account to hire an architectural firm to assess the structural needs of the historical Pratt Library building (which houses the Arms Library), develop bid specifications, design drawings and handle the bidding process. The 1914-built library needs both a new roof and foundation work, to prevent more water damage to the building and its library collection.
• Abolishing elections for the Board of Sewer Commissioners and replacing it with appointed positions. For several years, almost no one has run for this board, which represents the town’s sewer district users within the village of Shelburne Falls. The article would authorize selectmen to appoint a board of three residents to serve. (Shelburne Falls residents from both Buckland and Shelburne are served by the district; in Buckland, the selectmen serve as that town’s sewer commissioners.) “Corporate personhood” is also on the warrant, and a residents’ petitioned article asks the town to ask its congressman to support an amendment that clarifies that “corporations do not have the same rights as people, and that money is not speech for purposes of election-related spending.”