September 29, 2016

Grafton Planning Commission won’t present draft Town Plan to Select Board on Monday

Cynthia Prairie | Chester Telegraph | Sep 28, 2016 |

The Grafton Planning Commission will not be presenting a draft Town Plan at the Monday, Oct. 3 Select Board meeting as the board had hoped, a development that Select Board chair Ron Pilette called “very disappointing.”

The board has considered the Town Plan – even a draft – as a crucial element in preparing registered voters to cast ballots on the Iberdrola wind project. The board has also been pulling together information through three committees and is planning on a meeting on a wind project’s impact on hydrology. That meeting is set for the second week in October. Iberdrola, a Spanish wind company, has said it would abide by a vote of registered voters in Grafton and Windham on whether they are for or against the 28-turbine project that straddles the two communities.

Kissel asked how it came to be that a Select Board member had received a copy before any commissioner and if other Select Board members in the audience – chair Ron Pilette and members John Turner and Skip Lisle – also had copies. They did not and expressed surprise over the situation.

While Kissel addressed the question again to Stevens, Sands said he didn’t know why he received a copy other than he had been gone for three weeks, suggesting that it would bring him up to speed on events.

“I find that procedure highly irregular and very unhelpful.” said Kissel. Stevens then said that what he had done was similar to a how Kissel had handled a related matter.

In an interview on Tuesday, Stevens said he uses Sands as a “sounding board” to read over such documents. He added that his action on Monday “follows the same procedure that has been used against other commissioners” in not producing electronic copies. He then pointed to Kissel and agreed that his action was “tit for tat.”

He added that he also did not want to give the other commissioners his edited version of the Energy Chapter early because it would “give them ammunition to tear it apart then, instead of looking at it at Monday’s meeting and returning for a later meeting to discuss.”

Stevens also separated the Town Plan from the November wind vote, a link that Pilette has drawn as he attempted to get the town to move forward with a binding vote on the Iberdrola wind project on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Stevens said, “I don’t think the Town Plan has anything to do with the wind vote. … I don’t see the emergency as others do in seeing a Town Plan rushed through. (At this point) we can’t provide an actionable plan to the Select Board.”

He also expressed his concern for the direction of the Energy Chapter, saying, “The Town Plan could make the Certificate of Public Good process more difficult for Iberdrola down on the line if the language of Liisa and others were to prevail and I don’t want that to happen.”

In an interview on Tuesday on the delay, Pilette said he is “not quite sure what way we (the Select Board) will go. We need to think of what will work best for the town. We can’t have any more delays from the Planning Commission and we need to make decisions on Monday.”

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