Letter: Tiverton solar ordinance deceit needs sunlight

Posted 12/4/19

To the editor:

During the hearing, Councilor Coulter asked the planner, William Compton, “Help me understand. We didn’t have an ordinance, we passed an ordinance just a few months ago, …

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Letter: Tiverton solar ordinance deceit needs sunlight


To the editor:

On March 12, 2018, the Town Council unanimously approved and adopted Article XXIV Solar Photovoltaic System Development Ordinance.

On November 26, 2018, eight months later, the solar ordinance was listed on the agenda for repeal. Brand new council members Nancy Driggs, Justin Katz, Robert Coulter, and I were informed that the ordinance was poorly written, not well thought out, and ill conceived. View video part II for public hearing, at 11:27 on the video, to repeal zoning ordinance.

During the hearing, Councilor Coulter asked the planner, William Compton, “Help me understand. We didn’t have an ordinance, we passed an ordinance just a few months ago, now the recommendation is to repeal the ordinance.  What changed, what happened?” Mr. Compton explained he wasn’t employed here at the time but observed that the size, scale, and scope of the solar projects were greater than anticipated.

As the hearing progressed, it was learned that some projects were far enough along that even with the repeal, there was little that could be done.

Councilors Coulter, Katz, Driggs, and I asked many questions, then I asked councilors Perry, Hilton, and deMedeiros, at 22:37, why they thought this ordinance was okay to adopt.  Councilor Hilton was the only one to answer: “Nobody envisioned the unintended consequences of the ordinance.”

The new council, after much discussion, voted to repeal the solar ordinance and referred it back to the Planning Board for further study, review, and revision.

It took one year for the Planning Board to contact the Town Council with new recommendations for the solar ordinance.  Now, the Planning Board wants to have a workshop with the council.

During this year Councilors Coulter and Katz were blamed for the town not having a solar ordinance, and it was given as a reason for recalling them.  This was repeated over and over as if it were true, and no one corrected this terrible lie. Why were two councilors being held responsible for no solar ordinance when the blame sits squarely with the 2016 council?

The mailings sent to Tiverton voters before the recall election on October 10 lied that Councilors Coulter and Katz had not dealt with the solar ordinance. They had; they repealed it on November 26, and the Planning Board is responsible for the lack of an ordinance, not two councilors.

Councilors Hilton, deMedeiros, and Perry knew this but said nothing as this was part of the narrative to put them back in control. It didn’t matter if it was true or not if it helped to recall and replace, to have the majority and Hilton as replacement president and deMedeiros as replacement vice-president.  Anything for power.

Donna J Cook

Member, Tiverton Town Council

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