Green Community Discussion Highlights Selectmen Meeting
Westborough – In a nearly three hour meeting on April 27, the Board of Selectmen voted to transfer a liquor license, previewed plans to create a “Green Community” in Westborough, and approved articles on the annual town warrant to be discussed at Town Meeting May 15.
The meeting started with some discussion about the removal of trees in the Mt. Pleasant Street area. Resident David Jablon expressed frustration that resident concerns were not properly heard about the removal of dozens of trees in that area. After some discussion, it was decided that procedure appeared to be followed correctly and Mr. Jablon concluded his remarks.
Selectmen approved the transfer of an all alcohol liquor license, which was once granted to the former Canyon Café Restaurant on Route 9, to owners of the planned Tenka Grill. The new restaurant will be located at the former Canyon Café location.
The majority of the evening’s discussion, however, focused on a slide presentation presented by the Westborough Green Technology Advisory Committee. The ad hoc group presented plans to move Westborough to a Green Community designation as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Such a designation could provide the tools to get grants and consultation, explained Selectman Leigh Emory.
Criteria necessary to achieve a Green Community designation includes having zoned areas for renewable and alternative energy generation, research and development, or manufacturing. Such zoning, it was noted, could encourage businesses to locate to Westborough.
In addition, the town would need to adopt an expedited application and permit process for energy projects. The goal would be to have final approval for such projects in less than a year after introduction.
Westborough would also be required to establish baseline data on current energy consumption by municipal buildings, vehicles, and street lighting. After establishing the baseline, the town would create a plan to reduce the consumption by 20 percent over five years. Other criteria include the purchase of fuel efficient town vehicles. An exemption would be made for heavy duty machinery.
Finally, to qualify as a Green Community, Westborough would have to approve adoption of a “stretch energy code.” This code will require new residential, commercial and industrial buildings exceeding 3,000 square feet to adopt energy systems that will reduce use by roughly 20 percent over current regulations. Currently, eighteen of the 351 Massachusetts cities and towns have adopted the stretch energy code, including Cambridge, Newton, Sudbury and Lincoln.
Questions were raised at the meeting about the cost of implementing a stretch energy code and how long it will take to recoup the savings from such an investment. Selectman Rod Jane also noted that a there is a risk of “more regulation for Westborough.”
To adopt a stretch energy code, residents will have to approve the measure at a town meeting. Based on the slide show presented at the meeting, the goal is to present such a vote in the fall.
The final portion of the Selectmen Meeting was used to review articles on the warrant for the upcoming May 15 Town Meeting. Various articles were clarified and discussed. Some articles will be clarified at the next Selectmen Meeting May 11.
In a final motion, Selectmen voted to declare May 11 Town of Westborough’s Arbor Day. The purpose of the declaration is to encourage residents to plant a tree. The Department of Public Works will buy 50 saplings for the public to plant. Details on the available trees are expected to be posted on the DPW website.
The board then adjourned its meeting and will resume business at its next meeting on May 11. The Board of Selectmen meet in Town Hall at 7 p.m. A copy of the annual town meeting warrant can be found on the town website at .
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