Nantucket voters quickly dispatched with proposals to build a wind turbine in Madaket and expand the powers of the Historic District Commission during Monday’s Special Town Meeting.
Barbara Gookin’s citizen petition to appropriate $620,000 for a 100 kilowatt wind turbine at the Madaket landfill was overwhelmingly defeated, and the HDC petition, which had garnered significant opposition from the island’s real estate and building industries over the past week, was tabled with a motion from one of its supporters.
A large crowd (for a Special Town Meeting) of 632 people showed up at the Nantucket High School auditorium for the meeting, with attendance driven by the wind turbine article, which brought out west end residents, and the HDC petition that generated widespread opposition from two of the largest sectors of the island’s economy: building and real estate.
A sea of hands rose to defeat Article 5, Gookin’s citizen petition to fund a wind turbine similar in size and cost to the one already operating at Nantucket High School, just a few hundred yards away from the auditorium. It marked the second time this year that Nantucket voters have rejected a wind turbine project at the Madaket landfill. Back in March, island residents also shot down an even larger 900 kilowatt turbine proposal put forward by the town’s Energy Study Committee by a similarly large margin.
Voters also approved a series of enterprise fund budget amendments Monday night, the largest being a $1.06 million subsidy from the town’s general fund to Nantucket Memorial Airport to cover a shortfall at the island transportation hub. The subsidy is expected to be repaid by the airport at the end of the current fiscal year.
Only several other warrant articles were called for debate, and Monday’s Special Town Meeting wrapped up around 7:30 p.m. Tonight’s attendance was 632 people, a 7.5 percent turnout of Nantucket’s total of 8,389 registered voters.
For more coverage of Monday’s Special Town Meeting, pick up Thursday’s Inquirer and Mirror
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7:20 p.m. Article 11, the citizen petition to expand the powers and jurisdiction of the HDC, was tabled with an overwhelming vote to take no action. Linda Williams, who made the motion to table, is a member of the HDC who supported the proposal. But the island’s building and real estate sectors had rallied over the past week to defeat the petition – and appeared to be well represented in the auditorium. A potential deal that emerged over the weekend to refer the petition to a study group fell apart in the final day before the Special Town Meeting began.
7:18 p.m. Debate is underway on Article 11, the citizen petition seeking to expand the power
the powers of the HDC, with a motion to table the proposal from HDC member Linda Williams.
7:15 p.m. Article 8, the zoning bylaw amendment dealing with the town’s zoning enforcement officer position, was defeated on a hand count vote. The vote was 327 in favor, with 195 opposed. The required two-thirds threshold was 390 votes.
7:10 p.m. Voting is underway on Article 8, a zoning bylaw amendment which would allow the town manager to appoint any employee of the Building Department as a zoning enforcement officer of the town. Town manager Libby Gibson said the article was meant to improve efficiencies at the newly consolidated Planning and Land Use Services department. The article was called by Lucretia Voigt, who said it could result in inconsistent enforcement, have unintended consequences and wouldn’t fix the problems it aimed to solve.
7:05 p.m. The Madaket wind turbine citizen petition, Article 5, was overwhelmingly defeated on a voice vote. A hand count was called for, but the sea of hands in the air to vote “no” led moderator Sarah Alger to declare the two-thirds majority against the proposal.
7:00 p.m. David Goodman’s motion to table Article 5, or “essentially to kill the article for this town meeting,” as moderator Sarah Alger put it, was defeated on a voice vote.
6:45 p.m. Debate began on Article 5, Barbara Gookin’s citizen petition to fund the construction of a wind turbine at the Madaket landfill. With the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee issuing negative recommendations on the article, Gookin introduced a positive motion to appropriate $620,000 through borrowing to fund the project.
6:40 p.m. Article 1, a series of enterprise fund budget amendments, was approved on a declared majority voice vote. Five municipal enterprise funds required budget adjustments, the largest being a $1.06 million subsidy from the town’s general fund to Nantucket Memorial Airport. The airport deficit is being driven, in part, by increased debt-service costs from the terminal expansion project and the construction of the new general administration building (a project currently underway). The other factor necessitating the budget amendments in the enterprise funds is the state Department of Revenue’s financial reporting rules that prohibit them from budgeting any anticipated increases in revenue over the prior year. Town and airport officials hope the subsidies will be repaid from the enterprise funds’ retained earnings at the 2013 Annual Town Meeting.
6:22 p.m. Only five warrant articles have been called for debate, including the Madaket wind turbine appropriation and the HDC home rule petition.
6:10 p.m. The 2012 Special Town Meeting is now underway. Moderator Sarah Alger is updating a surprisingly large crowd of Special Town Meeting attendees about technical amendments to tonight’s warrant.
The island’s building and real estate industries rallied over the past week to defeat David Barham’s petition that seeks to expand the powers and jurisdiction of the HDC. A potential deal emerged over the weekend to refer the petition to a study group, but appeared to fall apart in the final hours before the Special Town Meeting.
Tonight will mark the second time this year that Nantucket’s legislative body – the island’s citizens – will convene at the high school auditorium to consider an array of municipal government business.
Stay tuned here for live updates once the Special Town Meeting begins.
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