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Shelburne extends wind turbine moratorium

SHELBURNE – In the second half of a four-hour annual town meeting, residents unanimously approved a one-year extension of the town’s wind-turbine moratorium and bought the Highway Department a new, used pick-up truck and a reversible, power-angled snow plow.

Voters also bought $4,000 worth of new voting booths, to bring the town into compliance with state election requirements, and spent $10,000 to cover consulting costs for centralizing the management and backup of town hall computers. That sum, from stabilization money, will also cover the cost for three new computers and related software. Also, a new $6,000 copier will be purchased for town offices.

$20,000 more was put into a roof replacement stabilization account, to be earmarked for the Arms Library’s Pratt Memorial Building. So far, the town has put $70,000 for the roof replacement into this account, but the roof costs are expected to top $400,000.

Shelburne approved the town’s share of improvement costs for the Shelburne Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility, with the money coming from the Sewer Enterprise Fund and from the revenues of sewer user fees. This included $11,500 for operations and maintenance, $7,840 as the town’s share of a loan repayment for reconstruction of the Conway Street “trunk line” damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, and $25,000 for reed bed excavation and maintenance.

Planning Board Chairman Matt Marchese said the Planing Board was “close to making a recommendation” for a smalll-scale, on-premises wind turbine bylaw, but didn’t want to rush the process.

Kevin Parsons, chairman of the board’s Wind Advisory Committee, said hundreds of hours had been spent researching the issues, and that the committee’s work is “about 75 to 80 percent finished,” although the committee has not been able to complete its data-gathering this spring.

Marchese said a small-scale wind bylaw is relatively new ground, and that the town’s bylaw will be a pioneering statute. He said the board’s goal is to bring a solid proposal to next year’s annual town meeting floor. Large-scale wind power was not even brought up, as the town voted to ban commercial-scale wind farms last year.

Voters also approved zoning bylaw revisions that clarified the town’s cell-tower/telecommunications bylaw and added wording recomendations made by the state Attorney General’s Office to the bylaw revisions adopted in 2008.

They also voted 32 to 16 to approve a resolution asking Baystate Health System officials to commit to making the Baystate Franklin Medical Center a “full-service” hospital.

As reported earlier, the town agreed to fund a third full-time police officer position, approved a 5 percent assessment increase from the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, and adopted a 1.2 percent increased government budget for fiscal year 2014.