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Wetlands reversal

Longtime town councilor wants another vote on wetlands law

GREENFIELD — A recent update of the town’s wetlands law voted by Town Council this month may not be a done deal after all.

Precinct 3 Town Councilor Brickett Allis has filed a motion to reconsider the ordinance.

Allis voted “yes” to the recent update, which was written by the town’s Conservation Commission and amended by the Town Council Appointments and Ordinances Committee. That gives him the right to require a second vote.

Allis said he will ask the council to reconsider its unanimous vote on June 18.

At first blush, it would seem Allis’ request won’t change anything, because if the rest of the councilors vote as they did on May 21, the revised ordinance will still become town law.

But, if Mayor William Martin decides to veto the council’s new vote — he has 10 days to do so — it could conceivably be a different council that again takes up the issue in July. The potential exists for five new members to join the council then, enough to put the issue in play again on the 13-member council.

If Martin decides to veto, it would have to go back to the council again, this time in July, and that would be after the town election, according to Town Clerk Deborah Tuttle.

Four councilors — Precinct 6 Councilor Hillary Hoffman, Precinct 2 Councilor Alfred Siano, Precinct 4 Councilor Steven Ronhave and At-large Councilor Mark Wisnewski — all of whom supported the Appointments and Ordinances version of the wetlands law — are up for re-election this year. David Singer has decided not to run for re-election in Precinct 5, so Penny Ricketts and Robert Wainstein will vie for that seat in the annual town election on June 10.

Changed mind

Allis said he changed his mind about his vote on reflection, because he believes the rewrite the commission submitted last year is the one that should have been voted into law.

When Allis was chairman of Appointments and Ordinances in 2010, he and his committee asked town departments and boards to review all of Greenfield’s ordinances and update them as needed.

“This was done, I believe, with the recognition that Appointments and Ordinances was not the right body to change some of the more complex ordinances and that we would leave it to the more qualified people who sit on the boards and commissions that have the expertise in the respective specific fields,” he said.

The Conservation Commission took more than two years to revise the wetlands law, and it submitted its rewrite in 2013.

By then, Appointments and Ordinances consisted of five new members: Singer, Hoffman, Siano, Precinct 1 Councilor Marian Kelner, and Precinct 7 Karen Shapiro Miller.

Those members, taking a different view of their role than their predecessors, made their own changes and amended the ordinance in their view strengthening the commission’s rewrite concerning replication of wetlands by development and increased the number of neighbors who are contacted about development.

Allis said after he took the recent vote to pass the updated ordinance, he pondered why the Council voted a document that was what he felt “so different from that which the Conservation Commission had requested it pass,” and said the council shouldn’t feel it knows better than the experts.

Allis said the draft that was voted by the full council on May 21 is a “politicized version” of the town’s wetlands law.

He said state law allows certain town and city boards and commissions to set their own rules of procedure with no jurisdiction accorded to the legislative body of the town and that’s the way it should be in Greenfield.

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