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Proposed charge for Renewable Energy Committee sent back for reworking

The Town Council deferred a decision on establishing a standing Renewable Energy Committee pending a rewrite of the committee's proposed charge.

Councilors referred suggested edits to the charge, drafted by Chair Jessica Sullivan, back to the council's ordinance subcommittee on July 9, 2018. The subcommittee is expected to resubmit its recommendation for creating the new advisory committee to the full council soon after reworking the charge.

The council was poised to schedule a public hearing for August on creation of the new committee, which requires amending the town's ordinance on boards and committees. But Sullivan said she was concerned that the charge recommended by the three-member ordinance subcommittee was too narrow, and that minutes of the January and March 2018 meetings where the charge was discussed were not readily available on the town's website. "This does concern me, this is really a public-access issue, a (Freedom of Access) issue," Sullivan said. "I do think the council needs to do a better job of making sure that the minutes of meetings are posted, are available for the public," she said.

Town Manager Matthew Sturgis apologized for the oversight and the minutes were posted to the website the next morning.

Creation of a new, standing committee to advise the town on matters of renewable energy was a recommendation of an ad hoc committee that met during 2016. The committee made other recommendations, including creation of a solar array on town land, which will be a topic of a July 16 Town Council workshop.

The ordinance subcommittee, consisting of councilors Penny Jordan, Caitlin Jordan and Valerie Randall, has yet to schedule their next meeting, but other councilors indicated they would likely attend the meeting to offer ideas and help formulate a charge that could be more readily set by the full council for public hearing.

One of the Town Council's goals for 2018, under the heading "Sustainable Community," is to "align committees with the long-term mission of sustainability and renewable energy."