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Upton Moving Forward with Green Community Designation

The Upton Board of Selectmen voted two to one to move forward and seek a Green Community designation for the town. The discussion and vote took place during a March 4 meeting.

For some time, the Board had been discussing whether or not to seek out the designation. Over the summer, a Green Community Study Committee was formed in an effort to educate town officials on the pros and cons of obtaining the status.

If Upton eventually receives the designation, it will be eligible for grant funding that will go toward energy efficient projects in town. However, first five criterion must be met, which include providing as-of-right siting for a renewable or alternative energy source; adopting an expedited application and permitting process for the designated source; establishing an energy baseline inventory for municipal buildings, vehicles, and street and traffic lights and then put in place a plan that will reduce the baseline energy by 20 percent within five years; purchasing fuel efficient municipal vehicles; and finally, adopting the Stretch Energy Code as a general bylaw, which provides more energy efficient standards when building new residential and commercial buildings, additions, and residential alterations and repairs.

The Board had mixed feelings on seeking out the designation. Selectman Ken Picard voted against pursuing the program feeling the town could engage in energy efficient projects without going through the required Green Communities criteria. "I think we can move forward without having to worry about the designation. I'm just worried about pigeonholing us," he said.

However, both Selectman Chair James Brochu and Selectman Robert Fleming felt the designation would benefit the community. Fleming felt the program would not lock the town into anything. "I think it's a compliment to the town. So I'm in favor of it," he said. Brochu concurred. "I think there's more benefits to the town than negatives." He added that Upton will qualify for the grant money resulting from current initiatives presently going on.

A new Green Communities Committee will now be formed in order to seek out the designation. Several members of the Study Committee have mentioned they are interested in serving on the newly formed five member committee. However, the Board agreed to also open it up to any other residents who may be interested in serving on it. "We urge people to come forward quickly," said Town Manager Blythe Robinson.

Currently, a draft of the May 8 Annual Town Meeting warrant shows the as-of-right siting and Stretch Code bylaws will be voted on.




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