Georgetown Petition Calls for Dawes To Step Down

Wednesday July 27, 2022

Stewart Lytle / The Town Common. The intersection of Carleton Drive and East Main Street.

GEORGETOWN – Will the battle over the proposed 500-ton per-day trash transfer station cause this town’s top elected official to resign?

A petition signed by more than 100 residents is asking Selectboard Chair Doug Dawes to “resign immediately,” accusing him of having his own agenda in not re-appointing two veteran members of the town’s Conservation Commission (ConCom).

The chances that Dawes, who has indicated he supports the proposed transfer station, will agree to step down is unlikely. But the petition shows how deeply divided this town is over the proposal by G. Mello Trash Disposal Corp. 

Mello, a leading regional trash hauler, which operates a 50-ton transfer station in Georgetown, has proposed to build a new state-of-the-art transfer station on narrow Carleton Drive that could grow to be 10 times the size of the current facility. It would collect trash from commercial sights regionally in addition to municipal waste. 

That proposal was rejected by the town’s Planning Board and Conservation Commission, but approved by the Board of Health. Mello has appealed the negative decisions by the Planning Board and ConCom. 

It is the Conservation Commission’s unanimous vote not to grant Mello a permit that has stirred the call for Dawes’ ouster. 

The Selectmen voted earlier this month not to reappoint Laura Repplier, who had served nine years on the ConCom, and Rebecca Chane, who served six years. Both had voted along with the other commission members not to approve the proposed trash transfer station.

At the BOS meeting, the audience of more than a dozen residents shouted “ridiculous” and “You should be ashamed of yourself” after the selectmen did not reappoint Repplier and Chane.

Later in the meeting, after most of the audience had left, selectman Peter Kershaw said, “I don’t give a f… about Mello. People thought I was going to stop Mello. We don’t have the authority to do that.”

The letter submitted to the Board of Selectmen last week, states, “His (Dawes’) leadership is now perceived as having its own agenda, supported by three other Select Board members. We ask that he resign as we have no confidence in his ability to chair.” 

The petitioners, led by former selectman Steve Sadler, also asked Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco “to protect the integrity of the town” by calling out any actions by the Select Board that “hint of collusions, sexual discrimination, denial of free speech, no separation of church and state and violation of all other laws and values upon which our Democracy is founded. 

“The town is relying on the Administrator to provide a check and balance to the unbridled power some board members assume they have to do things as they feel entitled. We appreciate that while the Administrator reports to the Select Board, he works for the town and its tax paying residents.”

In addition to Dawes, the petition appears to reference Selectmen Kershaw and Gary Fowler. 

Selectwoman Amy Smith tried to nominate Repplier, but failed for lack of a second from the other selectmen. She and Kershaw voted to reappoint Rebecca Chane, but that vote failed because it did not have three votes.

Daryl Lamonica, who was recently elected to the board, did not vote on Chane’s or Repplier’s reappointment. 

The selectmen reappointed Christine Candia, who also voted against the controversial Mello project, to a second three-year term on the commission. It also appointed newcomer Logan Umberger to a three-year term. 

Amy Smith voted against Umberger, saying she received a copy of his resume only on the day of the hearing. “We are not following our own procedures,” Smith said.

The petition asks for a written response and for the letter to be posted on the Select Board’s web page. 

The Board of Selectmen are scheduled to meet next on Monday, July 25.

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