Aquinnah special meeting tonight
Aquinnah selectmen, frustrated in previous efforts to win voter approval of new wind energy regulations, will try again tonight.
Aquinnah's special town meeting begins at 7 pm in the Old Town Hall. The first order of business on the four-article warrant is a vote to establish an Aquinnah energy district of critical planning concern (DCPC).
Several amendments to the proposal are in the works, Jeffrey J. Burgoyne, the Aquinnah town coordinator, explained earlier this week. A memo sent to Aquinnah voters and residents by Mr. Burgoyne, on behalf of selectman Camille Rose and Carlos Monoya, strong supporters of the DCPC, explained that they had been prepared "in response to concerns expressed by the voters regarding the [proposed wind energy facilities bylaw]." The memo also reported that in a meeting yesterday, the selectmen voted by majority to support the amendments.
"These amendments have been reviewed by town counsel and are deemed to be judicious," the Rose/Montoya memo added. In explanation of this unusual description of the proposed amendments, Mr. Burgoyne added that the sentence was intended to explain that the amendments had been reviewed by Ron Rappaport, town counsel, who advised that in their revised form they might properly be put before the voters.
In addition to amendments that would simplify language in the bylaw, one of the planned amendments would remove the requirement that the recommendations following from an energy audit of a planned construction project must be addressed before a special permit for construction could be issued.
Another would amend a portion of the bylaw to read, "'Wind facilities shall not be located in open and highly visible areas unless the public benefit of the proposed facility out weighs its costs to the Town of Aquinnah DCPC goals. The extent of public benefit will be discussed and evaluated at three (3) posted and published public hearings for each project.' These will be sponsored by the board of selectmen after applications have been received by the planning board."
A DCPC designation provides for special regulations that are enforceable by the town and backstopped by the powerful super-regulatory authority of the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC).
Voters rejected an earlier slate of proposed regulations for a town-wide energy DCPC. But, proponents decided to try again.
A development moratorium, put in place by the Martha's Vineyard Commission when it approved the regulations at a meeting on May 8, remains in effect until the DCPC is approved, rescinded by the MVC, or expires in December.
Voters will also be asked to approve the possibility of the development of a municipal renewable wind energy program and the possible construction of a wind turbine on town-owned land.
On the heels of the town's change from dry to wet, selectmen will ask the voters for permission to petition the state legislature for authority to issue one-day licenses to nonprofit and civic groups to serve beer and wine on town-owned property.
And finally, voters will be asked to approve a policy that would require the town to sell surplus, land-locked land only to an abutting property owner who has legal access.