Update on March 12 Town Council Meeting

Town Administrator Fails To Tell Town Council/Public About Government Letters

There is so much to report so we’ll send the update over the next few days.

Lighting Ordinance

  • Town Council President Tom Gentz told the audience that the 70′ tall Sports lighting proposed for Ninigret Park could not be part of the lighting ordinance discussion, reading from a letter received from the National Parks Service (NPS) reminding the Town that it has an obligation under the 1979 transfer of the property from the Federal government to use the property in a manner consistent with the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service wrote a letter to DEM and to the Town in January 2012 objecting to a grant proposed to fund the lighting at the Park.
    It came out at the meeting that the NPS had also written to the Town Administrator in January 2011–one year ago– to say that Wind Turbines in Ninigret Park are a prohibited use. But until this week when the letter was received from the NPS about lighting, the Town Adminsitrator had not told the Town Council or any of the neighbors to the park about the letter he received in January 2011.
  • After this revelation, one citizen asked why the Town went through over a year of meetings and controversy about wind turbines in Ninigret Park when they were prohibited over a year ago by the federal government. We’ll be looking for an answer to that question and others.
  • The NPS advised the Town if they wish to pursue the lighting they will have to conduct a full environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. With the Biologists at USFWS concerned about the lighting’s impact on migratory birds, it appears unlikely the NPS would approve the lighting even if a review under NEPA were conducted.
  • The NPS stated that the Town and National Wildlife Refuge must be used in a consistent manner. The NPS is concerned about a pattern of uses proposed in the park that do not abide by the 1979 agreement. The agreement only allows for park or recreational uses of the land.

The hearing on the lighting ordinance was continued until the April Town Council meeting–we’ll tell you more about the details of the lighting discussion in a subsequent email.