No legal recourse against Eversource spraying

Tisbury can’t follow in Brewster’s footsteps, but plans to warn homeowners.

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With limited legal options, the town of Tisbury will pursue a home rule petition against Eversource spraying at town meeting. —Stacey Rupolo

The town’s legal options, at least before Eversource sprays herbicides this year, are limited, town administrator Jay Grande told the board of selectmen Tuesday.

Unlike Brewster, which won an injunction against spraying of overgrowth on the utility’s power lines, Tisbury has no prior appeal it can point to, Mr. Grande said. “The town would be well-served to pursue actions and arguments to any future five-year plan and prepare for that,” he said, repeating advice he received from the town’s attorney.

The town had talked about following Brewster’s lead at a meeting two weeks ago.

The town plans to seek a home-rule petition at town meeting against the use of chemicals to control plant growth. Home-rule petitions require support of the state Legislature, so any solution against the spraying will take time.

Meanwhile, town health agent Maura Valley said her department plans to warn homeowners in the affected areas where the chemicals will be sprayed so they can take precautions.

“At least let’s give as much info to abutters as we possibly can,” she said.

Selectmen chairman Larry Gomez volunteered to help distribute the warnings.

There is conflicting information about Rodeo, one of the herbicides used by Eversource. Its active ingredient, glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is not considered a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. That is contradicted by the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization, which announced in 2015 that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Brewster officials are questioning the spraying of chemicals within 50 vertical feet of that town’s water supply and have a hearing on it Friday, Ms. Valley said. It’s a similar issue to one brought up by selectman Tristan Israel previously. The aquifer, which supplies town water, may be within that 50 feet, he said.

 

Not in the cards, yet

Selectmen aren’t ready, just yet, to allow town finance director Jon Snyder to get credit cards for town department heads.

A week ago, Mr. Snyder first brought the idea to selectmen to get a town credit card.

This week he was back with an idea to give individual department heads a card that would be under one account. He would get a breakdown of what was spent in each department, he said.

“This is a big change,” Mr. Grande said of allowing credit card purchases. “I want to make sure everyone in the organization is comfortable with it.”

Past issues with travel expenses is one of the reasons Mr. Grande provided for some of his uneasiness. “We have to pay that bill whether there is an unauthorized credit on there or not,” he said.

There is a provision in the proposed policy making an individual employee responsible for unauthorized purchases.

Fire Chief John Schilling said increasingly it’s tough to avoid the need for a credit card. Even the fire academy requires one to pay for the training, he said.

Right now, employees have to put credit card purchases on their own cards and seek reimbursement.

Ultimately, the board decided they wanted more information before proceeding.

In other business, selectmen continued two public hearings — one on new parking regulations, and the other on a new fee schedule for common victualer and innkeepers’ licenses.

The town also heard an update from Heidi Rydzewski, the town’s information technology director. Credit cards can now be used for docking services at the harbor and soon should be available at the local dropoff location, she said.

Planning board chairman Ben Robinson has been added to the Vineyard Haven library building committee, after board members were satisfied he would not be overtaxed by the position.

James Lobdell resigned his position on the harbor management committee. The board plans to send him a letter of thanks for his long service to the town. Nat Benjamin was added to a different harbor-related committee, the Tisbury Waterways and Harbor Planning Committee.

And, get out those quahog rakes. Selectmen approved a request by shellfish constable Danielle Ewart to open an area in Tashmoo, near Hillman Point. The quahogs were moved to the pond from Fall River. It’s common for shellfish to be moved from a contaminated area to a clean area so that they can be cleansed of toxins. State testing came back clean, Ms. Ewart told the board.

The area will open Saturday, Oct. 14.