Brattleboro board inches forward on 2nd solar project
BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard agreed to begin looking into a second, large-scale solar project which could provide the rest of the energy the town needs to run its buildings and facilities.
The board has already committed the town to a 500 kilowatt net metering project in Townshend which could provide about half of the electricity the town uses.
At Tuesday night's Selectboard meeting the board said the Energy Committee could start looking for a second project, though the board was not ready to commit fully to the second project until more is known about the costs and benefits of solar power.
Energy Coordinator Paul Cameron, and Energy Committee Chairman Lester Humphreys, came before the board requesting the authority to begin looking for a second net metering project for the town.
"The Energy Committee wants to see what kind of offers are out there," Cameron said Wednesday. "We want to survey the landscape and see what is available. The town is not signing any contracts or making any commitments at this time."
Humphreys said investigating and permitting a project takes a long time.
Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein said the board wanted to know more about the first project before committing to a second.
Gartenstein warned Humphreys that the town was not going to sign on to a new solar array until it was certain that the savings and energy production would in fact meet the town's needs.
Humphreys and Cameron did admit that they were coming back to the town a little early, but said it made sense to begin investigating the projects that are available.
At Tuesday night's meeting the board announced that a petition had been handed in earlier Tuesday which forces a new, townwide vote on the $16.2 million budget that Town Meeting Representatives approved at Town Meeting on March 22.
The board is going to hold a special meeting on April 7 to set the vote date, which will likely be on April 17.
At Tuesday's meeting Town Meeting Representative, and former Finance Committee member, John Wilmerding said he supported the budget, and would do so again in his vote, but he thought it made sense for the public to have a say in the 2015 spending plan.
Wilmerding said he was one of the 56 Town Meeting Representatives who signed the petition, which set up the townwide vote.
The Skatepark Site Selection Committee also gave the board an update on its work, and received a one-month extension on when it was expected to offer recommendations to the board.
The committee has been working since November to find the best place in town for a new skatepark and was expected to offer its recommendations by May 1.
The committee has narrowed the list down to 10 potential sites and is expected to start site visits in the next few weeks.
The Selectboard agreed to give the committee an extra month to do its work, with the recommendation now expected to be handed in before June 1.
The town is going to ask for more information about a cell tower proposed for land on Meadowbrook Road.
Planning Director Rod Francis came before the board Tuesday to talk about the project.
The Planning Commission wants to know what the visual impact will be from Route 9.
The board agreed that more information is needed about the 100-foot, monopine cell tower that Verizon Wireless wants to erect, and agreed to support the Planning Commission's request for a visual impact analysis.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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