West Tisbury to draft letter to Eversource over spraying


On Wednesday night, Sept. 27, West Tisbury selectmen directed town administrator Jennifer Rand to draft a letter to Eversource that seeks to establish dialogue with the utility company over yet to be scheduled herbicidal spraying along electrical corridors in the town.

Ms. Rand informed the selectmen Wednesday that she’d received a telephone inquiry about Eversource powerline spraying. The caller noted that spraying in Brewster was halted due to a restraining order and mentioned that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission was considering a lawsuit. Ms. Rand reported that the commission is engaged in no such suit.

“I’ve spoken to Adam Turner and at this moment the commission doesn’t even know if they have standing,” she said. “They’re not a town so in what basis could they pursue a lawsuit? He doesn’t know. He has been actively pursuing a conversation with Eversource to try to get them to come down and understand what the Island’s particular concerns are.”

West Tisbury is not slated to be sprayed this year, Ms Rand noted, so it currently has no standing for a civil complaint to stop spraying, but spraying next year is possible, she added. She asked the selectmen to consider keeping in touch with commission regarding Eversource and to contemplate whether the town would wish to join an all-Island suit if one should develop. She further asked them to consider sending Eversource a letter requesting that they visit and discuss their herbicide plans or “preemptively say we are not going to support spraying in our town, we do not want you to spray in our town, and we’d like you to come down so we can explain why,” she said.

“I think it’s a legitimate concern and so being proactive is good,” selectman Cynthia Mitchell said.  

Selectman Kent Healy pointed out that it would be important to know what chemicals Eversource plans to employ.

“I think spraying with Roundup is probably less disruptive to the environment than mowing with internal combustion engines,” he said.

In other business, the selectmen voted to extend the lease of the West Tisbury School to the Martha’s Vineyard Public School System for another year.

Selectman Skipper Manter was absent from the meeting. The selectmen opted to postpone voting to approve previous minutes until he returns.