PLYMOUTH – You can lead or you can follow, and the Planning Board will follow the petitioner’s lead at Town Meeting, if a proposal to slap a moratorium on wind turbines is pursued.
A citizen-petitioned Town Meeting article would ask representatives to place a two-year moratorium on wind turbine projects in town. Armed with town counsel’s opinion, Planning Board members voted, 3-2, a few weeks ago, to tweak the article’s language to make it legally binding and more specific to barring industrial turbines from residential zones.
The petitioners approved the amended article and backed putting that on the warrant instead of the original incarnation.
But selectmen can vote against including a proposal on a Town Meeting warrant, which the board did regarding the amended moratorium article.
That leaves one or two options for the petitioners, according to Planning Board Chairman Marc Garrett. The petitioners could ask a Town Meeting member to make a motion on the article during Town Meeting, but that would require a second from another Town Meeting member for the proposal to move forward. Or the Planning Board could make the motion instead.
While Garrett said he’s in favor of making that motion on behalf of his board, he wouldn’t do it without the board’s authorization.
“I’m not in favor of the Planning Board supporting an article on Town Meeting floor,” Planning Board member Paul McAlduff said. “All they need is two Town Meeting members to do it. It shouldn’t be us. We’ve never done it before and I think it’s a bad precedent to set presenting other people’s articles.”
“Leaders lead,” Garrett countered. “I get that we don’t support petitioned articles, however, times are changing. We shadowbox this issue constantly. I am in favor of wind and I am also in favor of democratic government deciding how it’s going to address controversial problems. As much as I don’t feel like standing up in front of a hostile crowd, we’re not telling Town Meeting they should vote for it; we’re telling them to discuss it.”
Planning Board member Tim Grandy also supported the proactive approach. He made a motion that the board should move at Town Meeting to discuss and vote on the amended article, but Grandy’s motion wasn’t seconded. The board voted, 3-2, to discuss the article if the petitioners succeed in having it heard. Planning Board member Bill Wennerberg said the board should be prepared to comment on its action regarding the proposal should it reach the discussion level at Town Meeting.
“Leaders lead,” Garrett repeated after the vote, expressing his frustration with the result.
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