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Wareham repeals wind bylaw

WAREHAM – On the first night of a 50-article Town Meeting, residents by a needed two-thirds vote repealed a section of the zoning bylaws dealing with the building of wind energy facilities.

Town Meeting had actually repealed the bylaw last year. However, the state Attorney General’s Office said the action didn’t stand because all neighboring towns weren’t notified of the bylaw change as required.

Section 582 of the bylaw said a wind facility may be built on a minimum 5-acre parcel owned by the town or a private citizen.

On Monday, Guy Campinha, director of Water Pollution Control, offered a motion that would have allowed turbines only on town property greater than 5 acres. The motion was defeated.

Nancy Miller pushed for repeal of the bylaw, saying it gave “carte blanche” to businesses. “How many 5-acre parcels does the town have? I know one, and that’s Lopes playground in Onset. Anywhere there’s a 5-acre parcel … the town gives permission to build wind turbines,” said Miller.

On another front, former selectman and recently elected Assessor Brenda Eckstrom stirred up the room when she proposed a motion to amend Article 5 to include a $500 stipend for members of the Board of Selectmen.

Article 5 sought $62,000 for the town clerk and a $118 per diem stipend for the moderator.

Eckstrom got up to plead her case a number of times, citing the rising costs of gasoline as one reason for giving the board a stipend. She was occasionally met by jeers from the audience and noted at one point “Every time I’ve gotten up here it’s been harassment.”

Ervin Russell also spoke in favor of the amendment, saying “If we pay them nothing, we’ll get nothing.” He also suggested that Wareham should consider switching to a mayoral form of government with a City Council.

School Committee member Geoff Swett argued against the amendment. “It’s clear that people are running without a stipend and will continue to do so,” Swett said, adding “Part of what I love about this community is the volunteerism.”

Selectman Stephen Holmes was against amending the article and said “I don’t know where this coming from but I’m going to vote no.”

Although the amendment failed, the article as originally written passed.