SOUTH DENNIS – As the Jan. 17 trial date in the Aquacultural Research Corporation vs. Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Commission lawsuit approaches, Dennis selectmen say they intend to keep the town involved.
Following an executive session Tuesday night, Selectmen Chairman Paul McCormick said he cannot discuss his board’s litigation strategy in an ongoing case. Instead, McCormick said, selectmen wished to inform the public of their reasons for staying involved in the suit.
In August 2010, Dennis’ OKH Committee approved ARC’s application to construct a 600 kilowatt wind turbine on its property at 99 Chapin Beach Road in Dennis. Resident Rosemarie Austin, who considers herself a “visual abutter,” appealed that decision to the regional commission, which overturned the local determination. Since 2011, ARC has been fighting that action in court.
Selectmen have consistently stressed that they are not funding ARC’s appeal. “ARC has had its own counsel from the outset and has shouldered the responsibility of prosecuting this appeal,” McCormick said. “From the board’s perspective, however, this case presents significant questions involving the proper interpretation and application of the OKHRHD Act, such as the appropriate scope of review by the [regional historic district commission] of actions by the town’s historic district committee, and importantly, who may properly appeal a decision of the local historic committee to the regional commission.”
Acting through the town’s lawyer following Orleans District Court Judge Brian Merrick’s decision to allow Dennis to intervene as an interested party, McCormick said selectmen have not advocated on the merits of ARC’s proposal, “as it is ARC’s responsibility to persuade a judge that the regional commission ought not to have overturned the Dennis OKH Committee’s decision. Instead, we have focused on the broader issues identified above and economic issues affecting our town, which [we] feel are of sufficient concern to warrant the town’s continued participation in this case.”
McCormick noted Yarmouth’s failed attempt to intervene in support of the regional district commission and Austin.
“While Yarmouth was not ultimately permitted to intervene, its efforts to do so demonstrate that this case raises questions of importance to communities that make up the regional historic district beyond whether or not ARC should be able to erect a wind turbine on its property,” McCormick concluded.
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