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Green Community Bylaws on Upton Warrant

Upton may be closer to being designated a Green Community should residents pass two warrant articles at the May 8 Annual Town Meeting.

The Green Community Committee will be bringing forward two bylaws; one concerns a zoning bylaw for large-scale ground mounted solar photovoltaic installations and the second will adopt the Stretch Energy Code.

Upton is working its way toward a Green Communities status and in order to do so must adopt five criterions, including the stretch code and solar installation bylaws. Should the town eventually receive the designation, it will be eligible for grant funding of approximately $145,000 as well as other competitive grants that will go towards energy efficient projects.

Article 15 on the warrant concerns the large-scale ground mounted solar photovoltaic installations. The zoning bylaw, which has a favorable recommendation from the Planning Board, goes into a number of details concerning the solar installations including general requirements, site plan review, as-of-right siting, operation and maintenance, dimension and density requirements, safety and environment standards, among others. The bylaw allows for the installations to be located in commercial and residential districts only from 250 to 500 kilowatts DC (direct current) that occupy from 40,000 to 80,000 square feet of surface area.

The Stretch Energy Code adoption, Article 16, is designed to increase energy efficient codes for residential and commercial buildings as well as certain additions or renovations. According to Bill Taylor of the Green Communities Committee, the code affects different factors concerning construction including insulation, doors, windows, and HVAC systems. "Really it affects residential the most because Upton doesn't have much commercial building," he explained. If passed, the Stretch Code start date would be January 1, 2015 and a sole effective date of July 1, 2015. Upton Building Commissioner Pat Roche says he supports the Stretch Code due to the grant funding the town will receive if the Green Community designation is attained.

Other bylaw amendments on the warrant include Article 10, a measure to change the Treasurer/Collector's position from elected to appointed.

Article 11 will provide stipends to certain elected officials if passed. Currently, some elected officials receive stipends while others do not. The article, if passed, aims to rectify that inconsistency. The chairman of an elected multiple member board of committee would be eligible to receive an annual stipend of not more the $750 and all other members would receive $500. The stipends would not apply to members of the Finance Committee.

Article 12 is a bylaw amendment to reduce the size of the Finance Committee from nine members to five; a measure to help make the Committee's workload more efficient.

If passed, Article 13 will allow the town's Chief Procurement Officer to enter into contracts or leases for longer than three years if it proves to be beneficial for the town.

The Planning Board is sponsoring an article, Article 14, concerning Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers and is requesting to add information to the town's Table of Principal Uses and the definition of such facility to the bylaws.

More details on the proposed bylaws are located on the town's Web site at May 8 Town Meeting will take place at Nipmuc Regional High School at 7 p.m.


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