July 29, 2008

Hearing on Power Plant is Postponed

By Chris Camire, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

Jul. 29--BILLERICA -- Looking to avoid past mistakes, the Planning Board halted a presentation from representatives of the Billerica Energy Center last night until it determines if it has jurisdiction over the project.

The issue was raised by Planning Board member Ed McLaughlin, who said he wants a written statement from town counsel or the building inspector indicating whether the power plant proposed for North Billerica requires a site-plan permit.

If it does not, the Planning Board has no authority over the project, said McLaughlin.

"I don't want to sit though another three years and make the same mistake again," McLaughlin said, referring to last week's recommendation from town counsel that Building Inspector Milton Kinney issue a building permit for a controversial proposed day-care center on Treble Cove Road despite the Planning Board's denial. "I want something in writing from the building inspector or town counsel that this is a site-plan special permit. If it is, I will sit here for the three years and listen to it. If not, then I don't want to waste our time."

The Planning Board voted 5-1, with Paul Marasco absent, to postpone the presentation. Member Bob Casey voted in the minority, explaining that he had traffic concerns he had hoped to have addressed.

The Billerica Energy Center, a $200 million project from DG Clean Power, would place a 348-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant on Billerica Avenue.

About a dozen residents showed

up to hear an introductory presentation on the power plant from Attorney Steve Lentine, who represents DG Clean Power. Lentine welcomed the Planning Board's decision.

"We don't have a problem with meeting with the building inspector first," said Lentine. ."

DG Clean Power has been bombarded with health and environmental questions pertaining to its power plant. The project's developers insist that the plant will have minimal environmental impact.

Ed Camplese, president of Billerica Watchers, a group that opposes the proposed plant, said he is pleased with the Planning Board's vote.

"It should be done with all the I's dotted and T's crossed," said Camplese.


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