Greenfield

Petition against excavation rejected

Special Town Meeting voters kill motion that would have reversed 2013 decision

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

    Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.
  • Greenfield oters debated a proposal to restrict town activities on land next to Greenvale Cemetery at a special Town Meeting on Saturday.

GREENFIELD — Residents upset about the town’s plans for the lot next to Greenvale Cemetery got enough signatures to have a special Town Meeting on Saturday. But they failed to muster enough support for their call to cease sand and gravel extractions and halt any plans to move or relocate buildings onto the lot.

Voters chose, by a margin of 31 to 22, to pass over the article, effectively killing it.

At Town Meeting in March, voters approved $15,600 for surveying and engineering services to determine the feasibility of using the land for gravel processing and removed $10,000 from the salt and sand item of the town’s Highway Department budget. An amendment to the article included wording that gravel would be removed starting in 2013.

Select Board members have said the town could extract as much as $1 million in sand and gravel from the site, which would be buffered from the adjacent cemetery by rows of trees. Town officials have also discussed the possibility of moving Highway Department operations to the site in the future.

At the start of the meeting, the petitioners proposed an amendment to their warrant article, to eliminate a request for $10,000 to purchase sand and gravel.

“We’re taking the $10,000 out. It’s redundant because sand and gravel have already been taken out,” said Janet Renaud, one of the petitioners.

Leaving in the appropriation would have would have required that at least half of the town’s registered voters attend the special meeting.

That amendment was approved on a secret ballot vote, with 31 voters in favor and 24 opposed.

Much of the discussion on Saturday focused on how well informed about the town’s plans voters had been in March. Bob Brown, one of the residents who had signed the petition, said voters had been misled because they were under the impression that a feasibility study would be done before any gravel would be removed.

When she spoke in favor of the revised motion, Renaud said neighbors hadn’t been notified in advance of last year’s meeting about the Select Board’s plan to remove sand and gravel.

“There’s always been a tradition to include abutters in decisions,” she said. “It wasn’t done this time. I’m sure there was no malice, but there’s been transparency lacking.”

David Plourde said town officials were thinking about saving money rather than focusing on the long term.

“We’re talking about natural resource extraction,” Plourde said. “It’s an inherently industrial activity. Do we really want that in the Village District?”

Plourde also said the site wasn’t appropriate because it was right next to the cemetery and noise would disrupt memorial services or disturb those visiting the cemetery.

“Do we really want this kind of activity side by side?” Plourde asked. “Have we really thought through that?”

Select Board Chair Rob Wimpory said discussion of the gravel removal had started a few years before the Town Meeting vote. He said board members had spoken to trustees of the cemetery and noted that gravel extraction would take about one week each year.

“We have $1 million of gravel that we can use,” Wimpory said. “It would be foolish for us to throw away that kind of money. We’re trying to use a resource that the town has been given.”

He said any plan to move the Highway Department would have to go before a future Town Meeting.

Other residents said the Town Meeting vote was clear.

“I object to this whole process,” said Ann Majeski. “We spent a lot of time at last year’s Town Meeting. A lot more people than are here now voted on this.”

Bob Marshall, who said two thirds of those who voted in March supported the plan, criticized those behind the petition.

“To suggest that we are putting a gravel pit in the middle of the village is outrageous,” Marshall said. “Instead of going through the democratic process, they abuse it. I’d like to see us end this discussion and get on with the business of this community.”

The majority of those in attendance agreed, approving a motion to pass over the warrant article, which effectively killed it.

After the meeting, Wimpory said the Select Board would have brought the issue up again in March if the petitioners article had passed.

“I’m pleased that people continued with what they had originally voted,” he said. “I’m surprised. I thought we’d be doing it again.”

Maybe they will. Brown and Renaud said they were uncertain what their next step would be.

“I’ll have to find out what this all means,” Renaud said. “Maybe we’ll have to do another petition article.”

“We just didn’t have the turnout we wanted,” Brown said. “We had about 25 show up. It wasn’t enough.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233.

Janet Renaud is thinking about wasting more of the towns time and money (it costs the town significant money to hold a special town meeting) on another petition article? We've voted on this twice now, how many more times do we have to do it before she gets the message?

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