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In The Arena

In the Arena: Back to the drawing board

Maybe we should start referring to it as the “ordinance that will not die.”

Seriously, there are cyborgs in “Terminator” movies that are easier to kill than Greenfield’s proposed noise control ordinance, which was sent back to committee this week after the Town Council voted to sustain Mayor Bill Martin’s veto of the measure deemed by some town officials to be unenforceable in its present form.

“There are certain times when noise is unreasonable,” Greenfield Police Chief Robbie Haigh said. “I was more concerned about the times when noise might be very reasonable and the ordinance wouldn’t allow us to use any discretion in those cases.”

The council only voted to sustain Martin’s veto after obtaining a legal ruling from the town attorney that the ordinance could be sent back for review immediately, rather than having to table it for the usual nine months, a delay that is supposed to be what happens to ordinances struck down by the veto pen.

For whatever reason, there are a number of councilors, including new President Hillary Hoffman, who are trying to keep this thing alive because they believe there are residents who want it. That’s somewhat understandable and even admirable, because it should be the job of any elected body to respond to its constituents. But the key to responsible legislative governance is the ability to craft a law that addresses an issue in a manner that makes sense. The best way to find that out is to talk to the people who would ultimately be responsible for its enforcement — something that didn’t happen in this case.

That should be the first order of business the next time around, assuming this council is interested in crafting an ordinance that actually addresses, rather than pays lip service to, what so many people seem to view as a growing problem in this once-peaceful small city-town.

Dogs on ZBA agenda

The hottest ticket in Greenfield next week will likely be the July 31 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, when it will consider the fate of a couple and their nine dogs.

Sue Channel is a Greenfield native who recently moved back to town from Virginia with her husband and their nine rescue canines. As it turns out, her number of dogs is six more than the town allows residents to own without obtaining a kennel permit — something Channel says has turned out to be a much more of an involved process than expected.

“We didn’t realize until we had already bought the house that it require a much more involved process, where letters would have to go out to neighbors,” Channel said. “We’ve seen people walking their dogs all around here, so we didn’t think there would be a problem.”

It turns out there has been a problem with some neighbors, who have asked the ZBA to reject the kennel application. I would expect a number of those people to be in attendance for that final ZBA vote.

“We’ve also gotten quite a bit of support from some people, too,” Channel said. “But it’s been hard because we really love it here and just want to be able to keep our dogs, because they are not just pets. They are part of our family.”

It might not hurt if a few animal lovers in this supposedly dog-crazy town turned out to support the Channels at the ZBA meeting, Thursday night at the Greenfield Police Station meeting room.

Pipeline fight percolates

Hopefully, people got some of their questions answered at Thursday night’s Franklin County Planning Board/Council of Governments joint meeting regarding the proposed Franklin County gas pipeline project, even though it’s not likely to tone down the political rhetoric, which seems to get hotter by the day.

“Kinder Morgan’s got a problem, because they haven’t figured out how to deal with the state of Massachusetts,” former Montague Selectman Sam Lovejoy said after the June 3 WHMP/MCTV pipeline forum.”We’re used to citizen action. This is not Texas.”

Lovejoy knows of what he speaks, having toppled a weather tower on the Montague Plains 40 years ago to prevent a nuclear reactor from being built there. He says part of the reason for the outcry is Kinder Morgan’s refusal to provide specific information about a project that will likely have a serious impact on a large tract of the very same pristine open space this commonwealth seems to have less and less of each year.

“It’s their own fault,” Lovejoy said of the company. “They stirred the pot, and every meeting like this stirs it some more.”

Hopefully, someone in Boston or Washington will start to see that long before the bulldozers start rolling.

Chris Collins is news director/managing editor of WHAI FM and Bear Country 95.3. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder and a Greenfield native.

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