NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 3, 2012

Digging into the Stretch Code

Officials tout benefits amid questions on bill's restrictions

(Continued)

He also explained that the code doesn’t apply to registered historical sites either.

“If you’re in a local historical district, those homes are exempt,” Berry said. “You don’t have to put in a special window that won’t look right on a historic home.”

Adopting the Stretch Code is one of the five requirements that communities must meet before they can receive Green Community designation from the state, said Joanne Bissetta, regional director of the Green Communities Program.

In addition to the Stretch Code, the other required criteria are providing zoning for renewable energy-generating, research and development or manufacturing facilities; adopting an expedited application and permit process for those facilities, developing a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles only.

So far, Amesbury has met the zoning requirement and is close to meeting the permitting one, according to Scorzoni. He said the third and fourth requirements won’t be difficult and that the Stretch Code would likely be the biggest hurdle.

Communities that receive Green Community designation from the state are eligible for up to $10 million in state grant funds that can be used toward green energy projects. Scorzoni added that Green Communities also have an edge in other grant processes, making the designation advantageous from that standpoint as well.

Newburyport resident Sarah Holden and that city’s recycling coordinator, Molly Ettenborough, who were both heavily involved in their community’s Green Communities push, said they haven’t experienced any issues with the Stretch Code.

“Since July of 2011, we’ve had upwards of 20 new single-family residential projects in Newburyport, and we’ve not heard of any problems with these projects,” Holden said.

The majority of residents’ questions concerned areas where the code could potentially prove burdensome. City Councilor Donna McClure pointed out that when Springfield was hit by a tornado last summer, insurance companies didn’t cover the difference between what was destroyed and what was mandated by the Stretch Code.

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