Board makeup on 2 articles in Orange

  • Orange Town Hall by night Chris Curtis

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/23/2017 5:47:31 PM

ORANGE — The structure of two municipal boards will be shaken up if voters adopt a couple of articles on Orange’s special town meeting warrant this week.

There are warrant articles asking if townspeople wish to increase the number of Planning Board members from six to seven and the number of Selectboard members from three to five. The special town meeting is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in Orange Town Hall’s Ruth B. Smith Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Selectboard Vice Chairman Richard Sheridan, who also serves on the town’s Planning Board, said the idea to increase the Selectboard’s membership is not a new one.

“It comes up every seven or eight years, or less, sometimes,” he said.

Sheridan said the rationale is that having five members will bring more viewpoints and mind sets to the Selectboard.

He said the Planning Board has consisted of six members since its inception. He served on the board in the 1980s. It is unusual to have an even number of board members. Odd numbers are encouraged so ties can be avoided when members vote on a motion.

Stretch Energy Code

Another article pertains to the potential enactment of Stretch Energy Code, designed to result in cost-effective construction methods to improve energy efficiency. The Orange Selectboard has held two public hearings regarding the Stretch Energy Code, both of which were led by Jim Barry, a former Belchertown selectman hired by the state Department of Energy Resources to explain the Green Communities program throughout western Massachusetts. Barry said his town voted in 2009 to adopt the Stretch Energy Code, which went into effect in 2010.

The state’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program has helped 185 cities and towns earn Green Community designation, making them eligible for state grants. But becoming a Green Community requires adoption of the Stretch Energy Code.

According to Barry, the Green Communities application is due by Oct. 31. Orange’s estimated reward for becoming a Green Community is $145,000, he said. If this article is adopted, the Stretch Energy Code would go into effect on Jan. 1.

Barry said the state gives communities two options — a Base Energy Code or a Stretch Energy Code — for their building energy code. Stretch Energy Code can be adopted, and rescinded, by a Town Meeting vote.

Barry explained the updated Stretch Code applies to all new commercial buildings more than 100,000 square feet in area and new commercial buildings more than 40,000 square feet if they are specific high energy users such as supermarkets, laboratories and refrigerated warehouses. All additions, renovations and repairs to residential buildings are exempted, as are smaller new commercial buildings and additions, renovations and repairs of commercial buildings.

According to Barry, Stretch Energy Code is performance-based. It requires new homes to meet a Home Energy Rating System target, instead of requiring the installation of specific levels of energy efficiency for each building element, like window installation and roof insulation. The HERS rating is a measure based on a home’s total expected energy use and overall efficiency. Barry said it is calculated by a certified HERS rater using accredited software.

Under the Stretch Energy Code, Barry said, builders do not have to install specific energy efficiency measures. They can choose which energy efficiency measures to install and how to design the home in order to meet the targeted HERS rating.

Barry said Stretch Energy Code got its name because it was “a bit of a stretch” compared to Base Energy Code.

The entire special town meeting warrant can be found at http://bit.ly/2xTQhoH.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 258
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli


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