YARMOUTH – A Yarmouth Port resident asked the Yarmouth selectmen Tuesday night to join the Old King’s Highway Historic District Commission’s appeal of a recent decision regarding Aquacultural Research Corp. off Chapin Beach Road in Dennis.
The selectmen were lukewarm to the proposal after hearing an opinion and a $3,500 cost estimate from Town Attorney Bruce Gilmore. They did not vote on the issue Tuesday.
Jan David Wald made his case with a slide presentation and said he was acting on his own, but a large group of what he called “concerned citizens” was in the audience. No formal group has been formed, he said.
The OKH commission voted March 5 to appeal Judge Brian Merrick’s Feb. 25 ruling, which overturned the Dennis Old King’s Highway Committee’s approval of a 242-foot wind turbine on the company’s property.
In addition to asking the selectmen to appeal, Wald recommended they also vote against Barnstable County’s proposal to buy the ARC property for $4 million and lease it back to the current owner, who would retain the right to sell the business. Under that proposal, he said commercial shellfish licenses would increase by $50 a year and residential licenses would increase $10.
Wald also questioned the location near Chapin Beach, which he said is eroding and unstable. “This is not the best place to put that business,” he said. “The concept is good but I question the county’s evaluation.” He also said there are “human costs,” citing the ongoing turbine controversy in Falmouth.
He specifically asked the selectmen to vote against using any public funds for the facility and to join the Old King’s Highway appeal.
Selectwoman Tracy Post told Wald he brought up valid points about the financials on the property, but said she could not take any action Tuesday without hearing from the other side. Town Administrator William Hinchey said ARC owners were invited to the meeting, but they declined because they said they were reworking their proposal and were not prepared to discuss an update.
Gilmore said he discussed joining the appeal with the OKH representatives, but for him to file an amicus brief, he estimated it would cost the town $3,500. When Post asked if the town could accept donations to pay for the fees, Gilmore said “yes.”
Gilmore said he would be happy to spend a small amount of time on the case, but believes the OKH lawyers don’t need any help. He also noted that Yarmouth’s previous attempt to be a party in the original case was rejected a year ago.
When asked his personal opinion on the case, Gilmore said, “Judge Merrick dropped the ball on his standard of review. He probably made a mistake here.” He said the law was clear that the judge could only review the Old King’s Highway Commission’s exceeding its authority. “Everybody loves alternative energy unless it’s near them,” he added.
Gilmore said the selectmen have 30 days to decide if they want to join the case.
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