The Block Island Times

Town Council approves it all

By Lily O'Gara | Jul 10, 2014

In a spirit much more amicable than that of the last meeting, the members of the Town Council approved every item on the agenda during their Monday, July 7 meeting.

The Council voted to support the 2014 Plan for Allocation and Distribution of RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) Auction proceeds. The proceeds will be used by the Block Island Power Company (BIPCo) to install LED street lamps on the island. The Council decided to seek further clarification in their letter of support as to whether there would be funds for other projects as well, and also as to whether it was possible to prioritize the proceeds to first benefit lower income residents.

The Council also passed and approved a motion to support BIPCo’s Rural Utility Grant Program application. The grant is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, and seeks to form public-private partnerships to improve rural utility services and infrastructure. The grant money would not be fed into the rate structure, and First Warden Kim Gaffett said she felt the grant would be beneficial for both BIPCo and the town as a whole.

Councilor Chris Warfel pushed once again for the Council to receive instruction about net metering policy, saying he was “disappointed in the town government” for not doing so.

“Right now, we are blind,” Warfel said.

Gaffett said she would schedule a hands-on session with David Milner of BIPCo.

The rest of the meeting was smooth sailing.

Sean McGarry of Block Island Resources Management (BIRM) was in attendance to discuss the proposed Solid Waste and Recycling Services Agreement between the Town of New Shoreham and the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation. This is an annual agreement, though this is the first time in several years that any changes have been proposed, and the Council wanted public input before authorizing it.

McGarry said that the changes were not significant enough to push back authorization, but did suggest a larger brush cap. This is the first time in 12 years, he said, that the solid waste cap has been increased for the summer (by 12 tons), but that the brush cap has not been increased to reflect the higher number of summer island residents.

Though tire and mattress recycling fees have increased across the country, McGarry said that there are no plans to increase charges on the island, mainly because manufacturers are now charged with recycling returned items. The biggest issue that BIRM is currently facing, McGarry said, is implementing asphalt and sheet rock recycling and moving away from the current diversion cycle.

Other recycling efforts have been quite effective, McGarry said, including a hazardous waste collection program this past spring and a new household composting initiative. Although all but five electronic drop off stations have been closed throughout the state, McGarry said the island is working with a private company to continue the service, although BIRM is now assuming the transportation costs.

The Council passed the proposed waste and recycling agreement, and agreed to sponsor the Mary “D” Ball, which will be held on August 2 at the Sullivan House. The special events license requirement will be waived, as it is a charity event, though the noise ordinance will still apply.

The Council voted, too, to authorize Town Finance Director Amy Land to move forward with the Bond Authorization Resolution for Capital Improvements to Roads, Bridges and Other Appurtenances (not to exceed $1 million), and passed a motion to authorize the execution of the USDA Water and Waste System Grant Agreement ($42,000) and the USA Loan Resolution for the Water Company ($98,000).

In addition, the Council reviewed the timeline and preparation for the Large Capital Assets November Referendum items. There will be two meetings in the future to refine the language for the ballots, and the doctor’s residence and beach pavilion have been pulled from the ballot because they are already being prioritized.

Lastly, the Council approved an August 4 public hearing date for a proposed Zoning Board amendment.

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