Shaftsbury board does not endorse resident's clean energy resolution, drafts own

SHAFTSBURY — Two weeks after hearing from a citizen who hopes to get a clean energy resolution on the March ballot, the Shaftsbury Select Board decided not to endorse that resolution.

They did, however, vote to adopt a different resolution that expressed more general support for transitioning to renewable energy sources and expressed the town's intention to allow renewable infrastructure to be sited within the town so long as it is in accordance with the town plan.

On Dec. 4, resident Lynn Sternberg approached the board and asked them to consider endorsing a resolution she hoped to have appear on March's Australian ballot. The resolution, which was drafted as part of 350Vermont's "(Re)Generate New Solutions Campaign," expresses support for the state's goal of having 90 percent of its generated energy come from renewable sources by 2050. It reads, "Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Town will do our part to meet these demands by committing to efforts such as: Protecting town lands from fossil fuel infrastructure, denying easements or agreements for any pipelines crossing town lands; Weatherizing town buildings and schools; Enlisting state support to install roof-top solar on town and school buildings; Or other initiatives to improve residents' quality of life while helping us reduce overall energy use."

Several members of the board on Monday expressed concerns about parts or the whole of that resolution as written, and agreed by consensus not to endorse it. Sternberg said that she still intends to get the signatures required to have it appear on the ballot, five percent of the town's registered voters.

As an alternative to the 350VT resolution, Select Board Chairman Tim Scoggins presented one of his own, which he created in consultation with the town's planning commission and the Bennington County Regional Commission.

"The main purpose of town energy plans these days is to control the siting of renewable energy, where it goes," he said. "It's the position of the planning commission that Shaftsbury does not have any strong opinions about where solar should or should not go, or where wind should or should not go. What I felt was that the board would be in a good position at this point to state what our positions are relative to those things, specific to our town plan."

He suggested that the board adopt the language, "The Town of Shaftsbury supports the transition of the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar. We welcome the siting of renewable energy infrastructure in our town, as allowed by the town plan and as dictated by the free market. We do not seek to restrict renewable energy infrastructure any further than what is allowed for other types of building and industry."

The board voted 4-1 to adopt Scoggins' motion, with Joseph Barber voting against.

"The towns of Manchester, Arlington, Bennington, over in the east part of the state Brattleboro, and in the north country Burlington, they've all endorsed this," said Sternberg of the 350VT resolution. "As far as the resolution that you presented, I feel that it is, by all means, a step in the right direction, and we welcome it, but I think at this point in time, I think our Shaftsbury residents should be part and parcel of what is happening with the neighbors, and let them see (the 350VT resolution) and act on it as they see fit."

Derek Carson can be reached at, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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