Whately decides on utility pole locations

Recorder Staff
Friday, October 27, 2017

WHATELY — New utility pole locations on Egypt Road were given the green light at Wednesday’s Selectboard meeting, but not without plenty of discussion.

Contention first arose about a month ago after a subcontractor working for Eversource and Verizon presented plans to install four new poles along the road near, but not crossing, the railroad tracks.

Designs placed one pole in front of 27 Egypt Road, owned by Tammy and Richard Cyr. During the first hearing on the proposal, a required step, the homeowners requested that the pole be moved elsewhere off their land.

The new poles reach parcels owned by landowner Walter Thayer, near the railroad tracks, which aren’t currently connected to the grid. In the last month, utility representatives met a few times with neighbors, and agreed to move the pole in question “across the street to the other side — that’s the way it’s been designed, and everyone is in agreement,” Thayer said.

After lengthy discussion Wednesday, Whately’s three-member Selectboard voted 2-1 to sign off on the updated plans, but not before Selectwoman Joyce Palmer-Fortune raised concerns about discrepancies between written and visual designs presented by the subcontractor. Palmer-Fortune was the only board member not to sign the petition.

As she explained, measurements cited in the pole hearing’s petition — the same document signed by the Selectboard — didn’t match a map presented at the meeting by utility representatives.

“I’m trying to make sure what we actually sign is what you’ve agreed to. I’m not trying to be a troublemaker, although I don’t mind being a troublemaker. I don’t think these measurements match what’s on this map,” Palmer-Fortune said.

Noting similar problems in past presentations, Palmer-Fortune called the discrepancies “really sloppy, and I don’t think I’m going to put my name on it.”

A representative from the subcontractor assured the Selectboard that measurements on the petition are correct, as agreed upon by neighbors, even if the map isn’t.

Town officials decided to approve designs because neighbors, including Thayer and Tammy and Richard Cyr, voiced support for the project and said they were happy with the updated agreement.