Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Town Strikes Back

Town officials are really starting to understand the power of the web. This just posted on the town website:

Town Files Papers to End Anti-Solar Project Lawsuit

In its Answer, the Town is asking the Superior Court to dismiss the suit.

"Our attorneys believe this lawsuit has no legal merit. This is a strong project that received overwhelming support from the Select Board and from Town Meeting and it has widespread support from the community at large," said Town Manager, John Musante. "Discussions with the Department of Environmental Protection are ongoing, and the project will proceed only if the Town has fully satisfied all DEP requirements."

The Town must seek permitting approval from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and from the Town of Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals.

"Some neighbors have concerns about the project, and I continue to reach out to them. Later this month, I will invite them to sit down with me and other Town officials to discuss mutually beneficial ideas about ways we can address those concerns through setbacks, buffers, and other measures," said Musante.

Town Counsel Joel Bard added, "We hope the neighbors will be willing to resolve their concerns with the Town. We think it’s clear, however, that the case should be dismissed and we will be making that argument to the court." -


Anonymous said...

John Musante is saying all the right things, but it won't be enough, because there is always, always, always something wrong with the process.

In Amherst, there is always, always, always someone who has not been heard or feels that he or she has not been heard.

Until our leaders go door-to-door with a clipboard to transcribe every resident's feelings on every topic, the process will always be insufficiently inclusive.

You could turn the public policy process in Amherst into a wonderfully frustrating board game, you know, the kind that takes all afternoon and half the night to determine a winner? With cards that say "Go directly to Superior Court; pay $10,000 in legal fees."

Anonymous said...

It would be great if the town and the neighbors could truly sit down and talk about where the solar project should be appropriately sited and how it's current location affects the neighborhood.
It also would be good to get concrete information about the money, impacts, etc. and give the neighbors a say in what happens where they live. Okay, maybe it took a lawsuit to get the town to the table but if that's what it takes so be it. Time to talk and sort out the issues. Maybe next time these conversations will happen before decisions are made.

Anonymous said...

Time to talk and talk and talk and talk........sit down and talk some more........have some more conversations.....then announce a decision....find out some people were STILL not consulted....sit down and talk with them....and talk and talk and talk.

We're getting to the point where town officials are going to have to go door-to-door.

"Do you know what we plan to do?"
"Have you been heard?"
"Is there anything more you wish to say?"

But, unfortunately, the bottom line in Amherst is:
If the decision doesn't go your way, then you weren't fully heard.

The discussion on process is a fully loaded one. And going to court is the ultimate slowdown for the sore losers.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world outside the amherst town hall doors where government officials and planners work with neighborhoods to plan new development. It happens all over the country and many civilized countries. Maybe we should try it here instead of cutting out the neighborhoods, forcing a decision, getting slapped with a lawsuit -- then saying "Look, neighbors in amherst always sue." The town makes the same mistake over and over again with the same result.

It's time for a new way -- or actually an old way taught in planning schools -- WORK WITH NEIGHBORHOODS.

Ed said...

I still say Amherst should play hardball -- a 6 foot stockade fence on the property line (with all homeowner possessions beyond it lost), bright Sodium Vapor lights on every post, and cameras monitored 24/7 by the APD -- with any trespasser arrested if not shot.

Do this for a month, complete with low-flying MSP helicopters and the rest of the stuff they harass the um kids with, and the neighborhood will be pleading for the solar farm inside the month....