Shutesbury Planning Board Advances Lighting Bylaw to Public Hearing

The Shutesbury Planning Board’s recent meeting encompassed several topics, including advancing a proposed lighting bylaw to public hearing, discussions on an energy storage system (ESS) general bylaw, and addressing potential amendments to zoning bylaws. Notably, the board moved forward the lighting bylaw, which aims to provide a mechanism for enforcement and resolution of lighting violations outside of formal board escalation.

The proposed lighting bylaw emerged as a point of discussion during the meeting. Members of the board considered the bylaw not just as an enforcement tool, but as a proactive measure to resolve issues between neighbors before reaching the planning board. The discourse involved considerations around the effective date and transitional provisions for existing lighting issues. Concerns were raised about the cost implications for residents required to come into compliance.

In addition to the lighting bylaw, the board engaged in a review of the ESS general bylaw. This bylaw, which is not categorized as a zoning bylaw but as a general ordinance, underwent several revisions for clarity and thoroughness. The ESS general bylaw is designed to provide criteria for reviewing electric storage systems, a growing concern in the community. The select board will determine the necessity of a public hearing for this bylaw, while the planning board voted to recommend its inclusion on the 2024 town meeting warrant.

Part of the meeting also delved into potential changes to zoning amendments. The discussion focused on the precision of language used in the bylaws, including whether to incorporate terms such as “biomap” and “critical wildlife habitat,” and the specificity of “public” versus “private” drinking water wells. The level of detail required in findings for a decision was debated, highlighting the need for thoroughness to prevent vulnerabilities in the decision-making process. Members also contemplated the procedures for holding a public hearing and the subsequent review by the select board, as well as the timing for implementing new regulations and possible exemptions for existing installations.

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Another segment of the meeting addressed the process of drafting a public hearing notice. The planning board expressed an intent to provide comprehensive information to the public, illustrating a learned approach from a previous situation where a solar bylaw notice was criticized for insufficient detail by the Attorney General.

The meeting encompassed discussions on miscellaneous topics, including the annual report for a project referred to as Weck, the necessity of accountability, and the need for the company to submit the required report. The board also reviewed the appointment of an associate member, Tom Seaford, welcoming him to the board.

A public comment session revealed community interest in a project named Wheelock. A member of the public inquired about the developers and the status of a related Federal Court case. The board responded with the name of the company and case details, and addressed concerns about site access for individuals of Native American heritage, noting that the landowner restricts access.

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The reappointment process for board members was touched upon, with a member noting the requirement to gather more signatures. Additionally, the voting process for the upcoming election was discussed, including the provision for individuals to sign nomination papers.

The meeting navigated technical challenges, such as background noise and email delivery issues. Despite these, the board effectively approved minutes from previous meetings and set the agenda for future meetings, including a hearing for zoning bylaws.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Administrator:
Rebecca Torres
Planning Board Officials:
Carey Marshall (Land Use Clerk), Nathan Murphy, Deacon Bonnar, Steven Bressler, Michael DeChiara, Keith Hastie, Ashleigh Pyecroft (Associate Member), Robert Raymond, Tom Siefert, Jeff Weston (Associate Member)

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