South Hadley Conservation Commission chairman rebuts opposition allegations
SOUTH HADLEY — Landfill opponents got their much-desired public forum at Wednesday’s Conservation Commission meeting, after charging that the board had violated the state’s Open Meeting Law. They left the meeting without being totally satisfied.
Commission Chairman John Fleming said he “tried to go out of my way” to accommodate members of South Hadley Against More Expansion (SHAME), but that his board’s decision to accept a clear definition of conservation land boundaries on the 162-acre Bynan property abutting the landfill was a separate matter from the issue of landfill expansion. (See related story.)
SHAME alleged the conservation panel restricted public comment on the new boundaries during its Oct. 3 meeting.
SHAME member Christine Archambault of 259 Old Lyman Road filed a complaint with town officials last week. The board has 30 days to respond before the matter is referred to state Attorney General Martha Coakley, according to the group’s lawyer, Victor M. Anop of Chicopee.
Fleming said his commission has followed the law and rejected the violation charge.
“Never once have we ever had an Open Meeting Law violation,” he said. Archambault’s complaint has been referred to Town Counsel Edward J. Ryan Jr.
“It’s in Ryan’s hands now,” Fleming said. “We, as a commission, don’t think (the charge) has any validity.”
Fleming said the commission held several public meetings regarding the Bynan property boundaries and allowed public input at all of them.
But when an item is placed on a meeting agenda just for discussion purposes, no public input is required, he said.
“The commission feels that we did everything properly,” Fleming said.