EASTHAMPTON — At its March 6 meeting, the Easthampton City Council approved the relocation and installation of utility poles on Loudville Road, despite concerns that Eversource had completed the work before approval from the council. The relocation and installation of poles will allow for heavier lines which should mean more reliable service for that area.

The approval comes after the council continued the original public hearing at its Feb. 7 meeting because of concerns brought forth by a citizen that the poles had already been placed. After the initial public hearing, the property subcommittee met with representatives from Eversource to discuss the issue on Feb. 23.

Councilor Owen Zaret, chair of the property subcommittee, explained that it seemed the installation of the poles was an “administrative oversight” and that Eversource representatives were very apologetic. He noted that the procedure for such work will need to be reevaluated to ensure that such an oversight does not happen again.

“We jumped the gun a little bit on this project,” said Michael Fraga, Eversource operations manager for the Hadley district.

The subcommittee came to terms with Eversource to move forward with the project, including that Eversource will be responsible for grinding out the old stumps by May 1, that Eversource will replace trees that have been removed and that Eversource will give priority consideration to landowners who lost trees due to this project.

Although the council did approve the project, several councilors noted that oversights in the future would not be acceptable and voiced their concern that it was a citizen who brought up the issue instead of Eversource.

Councilor Brad Riley said that the council should “be able to expect Eversource to follow the rules” like the city expects residents to follow the rules.

“A citizen shouldn’t have to be policing this,” noted Riley.

Councilor Koni Denham agreed, noting that this brings up concerns about how corporations treat municipalities, calling the situation “unfortunate” and “problematic.”

“I don’t want to support this in any way,” said Denham.

Zaret noted that small businesses often receive penalties for such actions and Councilor JP Kwiecinski said that he “will not hesitate to vote no if this happens again.”

At the start of the meeting, Zaret noted the increased number of emails the council is getting about topics on its agendas. He encouraged the need to maintain a respectful tone both for those sending the council their concerns and those responding to them.

Tina Lesniak
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