BUCKFIELD – Three out of the five planning board members have resigned after residents voted against passing an ordinance for small wind energy systems at the annual town meeting, held June 16.
The ordinance failed to pass in a 10-9 vote. The selectboard publically opposed the ordinance at the meeting and voted against it.
The board of selectmen did not accept the resignations during its Tuesday meeting and decided to table the issue until it could meet with the planning board members about the issue.
In letters to the selectmen, planning board members Stacey Scotia, James Parker and Perley Lovejoy cite disappointment with the selectmen’s public opposition to the ordinance as the reason for their resignation.
The members say they believed the ordinance had the support of the selectmen and were shocked by the board’s unanimous public opposition to it at town meeting.
In her letter, Scotia claims the planning board incorporated three out of the four suggestions selectmen made on the ordinance following a joint meeting of the two groups on December 5.
She adds that the two selectmen present at the meeting “gave clear indication that they would be supportive of the ordinance if their concerns were addressed.”
“The selectboard’s unanimous vote against the Small Wind Ordinance … was not only shocking to me but blatantly disregarding of the attempts on the planning board’s part to seek input and support from the selectboard,” Scotia writes.
James Parker makes a similar case in his letter.
“I am extremely disappointed that the selectmen voted unanimously against the small wind turbine ordinance which they had input into and assisted in writing,” Parker writes.
Scotia added that since the ordinance did not pass, the more complex and restrictive state Wind Energy Facility ordinance language was the only measure the town would have to approve or deny a landowner’s request to put a windmill on their property.
Along with the resignation of Becky Perry on May 25 for an unrelated reason, the planning board is now down to one member.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Selectman Robin Buswell, who did not attend the December meeting, said he did not want to accept the resignations.
“I want us to put our best foot forward and personally send each member a letter … and ask them to come to our first meeting in July, if they possibly can and find out what the heck we’re doing wrong,” he said.
Interim Town Manager Dana Lee said he could understand how the planning board felt.
“Anytime you spend a lot of time on something … and then you find it’s a house divided in some way or that people aren’t appreciative of what you tried to do, it hurts,” said Lee.
The selectmen decided its first July meeting, on July 3, wasn’t an opportune time to meet with the planning board and decided to amend the invitation for July 17.
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