By Alex Malm
The Town Council discussed a proposal to create a Utilities Committee in town in order to to discuss and address issues related to utilities in Londonderry.
Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, said one of the things they wanted to look at was ways to give the committee “more teeth” and to be able to interact with some of the utility providers directly. He added that they also looked at adding language to keep it somewhat open ended so when they develop more, they can eventually give them more authority.
Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, said he added the suggestions and comments made during their previous meeting.
“It incorporated all your comments and suggestions,” said Malaguti.
Town Councilor, Deb Paul, said she didn’t like using the word “utility.”
“The word utility really bothers me,” said Paul.
She explained that when she hears the word utility she thinks of things like electricity, which isn’t what the entire purpose of the committee is about.
“I really think it should be resources and or energy,” said Paul.
She said other towns across the state call it different things other than utility committees.
Paul also noted she thinks it makes sense to have the planning board come in to help them work on different things like potential proposed ordinances.
“There’s a lot of things that I think the planning board needs to be involved in along with conservation,” said Paul.
One suggestion that was raised by her during the previous meeting was to have a larger number of people on the committee. She said she researched what other towns do across the state and they have more than seven members in order to divide up the different work. She added that most towns have 13-15 members.
“I think this takes a burden off a lot of departments,” said Paul, explaining they would be able to investigate things.
She also suggested they have a state representative that attends their meetings. She said that she heard from State Rep. Doug Thomas, who also served on the Energy Task Force, and thought it would be good to have representation from the state legislator to discuss what is happening at the state level.
Town Council Vice Chair, Joe Green, stated he has seen it be helpful with other committees to have different departments come in to help and discuss things.
Farrell said he didn’t think it would be good to have double digit amounts of people on the committee, saying he thought 13 to 15 people on a committee would be “unmanageable.”
Paul proposed going with seven members, along with three alternatives and a state representative liaison.
“I would like to see seven instead of five,” said Paul.
The Town Council agreed to that make up and decided to have two years for alternatives, which was suggested by Farrell in order to eventually have staggered terms for when people come on and off the committee.
The Town Council approved creating the committee.