PEPPERELL — Michael Dapcic is looking at greener pastures.
The Town of Pepperell announced last Thursday that the chair of the Planning Board has submitted his resignation last week. This comes a month after the town held elections with no terms on the board expiring and Albert Patenaude Jr. being elected to a vacant four-year term on the board.
If Dapcic's resignation is indeed accepted, he'll be going out on a good and bad public note. The good will go to his work with the planning board mapping out an amendment to town zoning bylaws establishing conditions for which marijuana establishments can be built in town and where specifically they can operate. This amendment received voter approval at the annual town meeting on May 6, along with the imposition of a three-percent sales tax of the total income from retail marijuana sales in-town.
The bad public note happened on that same night when the final article came up during the meeting. Said article was a citizen's petition from local resident Jeff Ratta, who was asking permission to lease his land on Mount Lebanon Street to a solar energy company to develop a solar panel farm. Ratta believed town landowners could establish a secondary income through similar situations and town homes could be more self-reliant through solar energy.
Dapcic then stepped up to alert the town that Ratta did approach the board about his proposal and the board told him it would work on a bylaw amendment to make the farm legal, since town law prohibits commercial solar farms in residential districts. The chair noted that Ratta had also introduced the citizen's petition to the town meeting warrant, making the board stop work on said amendment. Dapcic claimed that there had been no public hearing on this matter in front of the Planning Board, a claim that Ratta and his partner, Melody Thompson, denied. Ratta also claimed he had been pitching this solar farm for nearly two years. Dapcic's response?
"There was no mention to us about a solar bylaw until about five or six months ago. I don't know, maybe they got into the marijuana ahead of time, I don't know. As far as I could tell, nothing has come to us and we are not remiss in our duty. Lisa Davis, our town planner, is the one who brought that forward to us that we should develop this bylaw. That's what we're doing and we will do it and it will have all of its legal requirements before coming to town meeting in the fall."
Lisa Davis, advisor to the Planning Board, said this week that the board is looking to meet with the Board of Selectmen to appoint someone to the vacant position.