January 15, 2013

Time running out for decisions on turbines in Town Meeting vote is required

By Christopher Kazarian | Falmouth Enterprise | January 15, 2013 |

Selectmen will be forced to expedite their process for deciding what should be done with the town-owned wind turbines after their meeting with the Wind Turbine Options Process group was postponed until next week. That means the board will be forced to vote any articles related to the wind turbines onto the Special Town Meeting warrant instead of the Annual Town Meeting warrant which closes on Monday, January 28. The deadline to place an article onto the Special Town Meeting warrant is Monday, February 4.

The board’s time line was narrowed last week when the Wind Turbine Options Process group delayed sending over its final report to selectmen because additional data was added to the document. That information will be discussed at the group’s meeting tonight at the Falmouth Public Library.

Tonight’s meeting was originally going to include selectmen, but that has been pushed back to next week. Last night selectmen discussed when to hold that joint session, throwing out two days, next Monday, January 21, or next Wednesday, January 23. The board preferred next Monday, although it was unsure whether members of the Wind Turbine Options group would be able to attend the session.

There was also a question raised by Chairman Kevin E. Murphy on whether the board could legally convene a meeting on a national holiday as Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Town Manager Julian M. Suso said he would look into the town’s bylaws as well as state regulations to determine if they are allowed to meet next Monday. “I do worry about the insensitivity to it,” Selectman Douglas H. Jones said, though he admitted the board needs to move this process forward and begin making a decision on the turbine. If Monday does not work, the meeting would be held next Wednesday, with the Falmouth Public Library’s Hermann Foundation Room the preferred location. If that room is not available, the meeting would be moved to the Selectmen’s Meeting Room at town hall.

The board had a brief discussion on whether to allow public comments at that first session. Mr. Jones, who has served as the board’s liaison to the Wind Turbine Options Process group, said the intention was to not allow comments. “It is a conversation between the group and the board, as a group,” Mr. Jones said. He said the options group had wanted to make a presentation to selectmen in which it would highlight its recommendations on what should be done with the town-owned wind turbines. After that point, he said, there would then be a question and answer period involving selectmen and the group.

Selectmen agreed unanimously not to take comments from the public at that joint session. It will do so next Thursday, January 24, at a meeting to be held at town

hall. If necessary, Mr. Murphy said, the board can hold an additional meeting to take further comments from the public.

He expressed some concern that the board will have a short time frame in which to digest the Wind Turbine Options Process group’s report and public comment, and make a decision in time to make it onto the Special Town Meeting warrant. “We do have a place holder on the regular Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting warrant, but the regular Town Meeting warrant closes two weeks from this evening,” Mr. Murphy said. He said it was unlikely the board will be able to make a decision in the next two weeks. “That will mean we will need a place holder for the 4th of February, so we will have to back into this,” Mr. Murphy said. “The longer this is delayed, it makes it harder for the board to move forward and make a decision in time to meet these benchmarks.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/01/15/time-running-out-for-decisions-on-turbines-in-town-meeting-vote-is-required/