Selectmen, Minus One, Unwilling to Replay Solar Fight at Town Meeting

Photo: Jim Williams (left) and Mark Paolillo.

Telling their new colleague revisiting a contentious Solar Amendment at the reconvened Town Meeting on Monday, June 1 is “not a good use of Town Meeting’s time,” the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 to recommend unfavorable action on a motion to reconsider to bring the amendment back before the town’s legislative body.

During the debate, held at the Board’s meeting on Thursday, May 28, at the Beech Street Center, Selectman Jim Williams – who will bring the motion before Town Meeting next week – contend that the vote by Town Meeting on May 4 to “postponed indefinitely” the amendment was an example of “tantrum management” where personal attacks were launched to stifle a debate opponents didn’t want.

Yet for the two selectmen opposing the motion, a Solar Amendment “reboot” would be the wrong message to bring to resolving the issue of net metering in Belmont.

“We want to focus on the future, not the past,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo, who with Chair Sami Baghdady, voted to recommend not rehearing the debate.

Saying that he is committed to reaching the “right measure” on solar power pricing by committing to a relatively short public process to determine a long-term policy by October, Baghdady added that the reconsider motion “only creates perfect division in town.”

Paolillo restated an argument made by several Town Meeting members earlier in May that the amendment, requiring the town to approve a yet-to-be created state legislation on net metering, as “completely flawed to begin with.”

Paolillo called for an independent review of any future policy “to find middle ground” to defray the cost of installing and using solar power by revisiting earlier plans adopted by the town. He said this could be done within 60 days after Town Meeting adjourns.

Williams said he would be willing to remove the motion if those who brought the solar power measure  to Town Meeting – known as Article 9 – would support a more formalized review period suggested by Baghdady and Paolillo, “because then I have the confidence that the opposing position will be heard.” 

But Phil Thayer, Precinct 6 and a supporter of the article, said he didn’t have any comment on the proposal. 


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