Private meeting on woodchip plant cancelled
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | February 26,2013
SPRINGFIELD — An “invitation only” presentation about the proposed North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project for area select boards today was cancelled Monday after questions were raised about the legality of the meeting.
The Springfield Energy Project, a small group of Springfield residents, had set up the session for today at the offices of the biomass project in North Springfield. Dan Ingold of Weston Solutions, one of the partners in the 35-megawatt project slated for the North Springfield Industrial Park, was scheduled to make the presentation.
At least two of the four towns invited — Weathersfield and Chester — said they had questions about elected officials attending an “invitation only” session, and planned on not attending, according to their town managers. Select board members and energy coordinators were the only ones invited to the session.
Springfield also had reservations, according to Town Manager Robert Forguites and Select Board Chairman Kristi Morris. Morris said he wasn’t going to attend the session because of a prior commitment. Forguites said he wanted the session opened to the public.
“My feeling was if the purpose of the meeting was for getting information out, what’s wrong with having a public meeting?” Forguites said.
Earlier in the day organizer Mary Ann Remolador, who is also the town’s energy co-coordinator, had sent out a corrected invitation, saying she was not speaking as the town’s energy co-coordinator and had not organized the session in that capacity.
The original notice of the presentation listed Remolador as the town’s energy co-coordinator. Remolador didn’t respond to an email asking why the session was cancelled by press time.
The town quickly consulted with the town’s attorney and Secretary of State Jim Condos, and the corrected invitation was sent out, Condos and town attorney Stephen Ankuda said.
The state’s Open Meeting Law says that town boards must publicly warn meetings where a majority of members are attending and town business is going to be discussed.