HADLEY — Hadley’s Town Meeting on May 2 was attended by 184 residents. Those in attendance saw a singular exchange between resident Thomas Fyden and Planning Board Chair Jim Maksimoski.

Fyden stepped to the microphone during discussion of Article 23, an article that would allow battery storage facilities in the residential, farming and industrial zones of the town, but not the overlay district for aquifer protection. Fyden said there have been four catastrophic fires in the last year due to battery storage facilities, three in New York State, that required evacuations. He called out the Planning Board for ignoring the dangers of lithium ion battery technology.

“The Planning Board never said they’re safe,” Fyden said. “Members of the board compared this to Chernobyl, Love Canal and Three Mile Island. That’s the [Planning] Board that said that … [and] if it’s not safe enough for the aquifer it’s not safe for the farmland, for the residential.”

Maksimoski, chair of the Planning Board, blamed the Attorney General’s office.

“I’ll be perfectly blunt with you,” Mosimoski said. “The majority of the Planning Board is 100% in agreement with you. However, the state has said … you cannot prohibit and you can’t unreasonably regulate.”

According to Moderator Kirk B. Whatley, the article passed 180-3.

Dozens of residents left the meeting after earlier votes on funding a new ladder truck and water storage tanks, two large ticket articles that elicited questions. Fire Chief Michael Spanknebel explained the town’s current ladder truck requires major repairs and will probably soon need to be taken out of service. Many commercial and residential structures require ladder trucks to get to the roof, where solar arrays now complicate venting. Funding for the truck will be voted on at the Annual Election in a few weeks. If that funding article fails, the Town Meeting vote to authorize purchase will be moot. Article 17 passed 183-1.

Replacement of the water storage tanks, carrying a $9 million price tag, prompted questions that revealed the tanks may not cost that much. The consultant from Tighe and Bond said a large contingency, added as a standard precautionary measure, may not be spent. A grant through the federal Department of Agriculture may cover as much as 20% of costs. Voters passed Article 18, 182-1.

Article 19 asked residents to fund the Hadley Drinking Water Asset Management Plan for $155,000. The actual out of pocket cost will be $31,000, so voters passed the article unanimously.

Article 20 requested $185,000 be moved from free cash and a special account for ambulance receipts, to allow incoming payments for ambulance transport, a new service in town. Article 20 passed unanimously.

Article 21, an article to fund the enlargement of a culvert running from Route 9 to East Street, requested $250,000 as a local contribution that will make possible a Mass. Vulnerability Preparedness program grant for $1 million. The current ditch floods periodically. The new culvert will be 9.5 feet wide and six feet tall. Article 21 passed 182-1.

The Board of Assessors submitted Article 22, asking voters to accept provisions of Clause 41C of Chap. 59, Section 5 of Massachusetts General Law, that would broaden the group of residents eligible for tax relief. Article 22 passed unanimously.

Article 16 sought authorization to purchase real property at 234 Middle St., a lot and house adjacent to the DPW facility. Amy Cole, an abutter at 236 Middle St., asked why the article requests $105,000 more than the asking price. She also commented there are two bald eagle nests near the river boundary.

Selectboard Chair Amy Parsons said, “We feel it is a very valuable property for the town.”

Voters agreed. Article 16 passed 163-21.

At the beginning of the meeting, Joyce Chunglo, member of the Selectboard and very active in town government, was honored with a citation for her many and varied contributions. During discussion of Article 9, the omnibus budget, Chunglo became even more popular when she made a motion to forego reading the budget line by line. Moderator Whately seemed surprised when residents asked no questions about the operating plan for fiscal year 2025 of $21,698,814. Article 9 passed unanimously.

The Phelps Farmhouse, a structure dating to the early 1800s, will see renovations after Article 14 passed with voters. The article sought $150,000 in funding from the historic preservation and undesignated funds of the town’s Community Preservation Act, or CPA, monies. Questions arose about the relationship between the foundation that owns the building and the town, whether the town would have any control over how the farmhouse would be used, and whether it would be of benefit to town residents.

Andy Morris Freedman, a member of the CPA Committee, recommended the funding.

“This is just the first phase of a project that will make Hadley the envy of the Pioneer Valley,” Morris Freedman said. “It’s the history of your parents and grandparents … It’s a beautiful house.”

Article 15 sought $40,000 for renovating the exterior windows of Town Hall. A few questioners sought information on the details, after which residents passed the article unanimously.

Article 1, which sought a debt exclusion to fund the purchase of the ladder truck, was passed over. The rest of the articles in the warrant were consent articles, required by the commonwealth, that enable town government to carry out standard business. Those articles, combined, passed in a single vote.

Joyce Chunglo, still smiling after a three hour meeting, made the motion to adjourn.

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