Board of Selectmen give HAZMAT plan green light
By Robert Fucci
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission presented the Board of Selectmen a summary of a HAZMAT plan to be considered for adoption during its Dec. 6 meeting.
The process was started by Selectman Paul Maynard and other department heads. The draft of the plan was reviewed by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for approval.
“A lot of hours went into this plan which could potentially lead to funds for hazardous mitigation from state and federal government,” Town Administrator Jim Smith said. “We wouldn’t be able to complete this without the CMRPC’s help. There’s too much involved in this, too much information collected.”
According to CMRPC representative Andrew Loew, adoption of the plan costs nothing to Sutton.
“The process has been underway since 2015,” he said. “It received FEMA approval in November. The adoption allows grants through FEMA.”
According to Loew, hazard mitigation is things a town can do to reduce the loss of life and property from natural disasters before they happen. It is not considered disaster response, but rather is a goal to reduce hazard impacts before a disaster occurs.
The benefits for Sutton to adopt this plan is it establishes a road map for achievable actions that can substantially reduce risks and it allows the town to receive nonemergency federal disaster assistance and mitigation funding as mandated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.
The greatest risk of natural disasters to Sutton are severe thunderstorms and winter storms, Loew said. That is followed by hurricanes and tropical storms, and flooding in the Mumford and Blackstone rivers and tributaries at locations with drainage and culvert issues. Fire Station 2 is most vulnerable to this type of hazard.
Lowe said having partners with local knowledge is essential to the mitigation planning process. Partners in Sutton include Maynard, Smith, Fire Chief Matt Belsito, Highway Department head Matt Stencel, Police Chief Dennis Towle, Board of Health head Cheryl Rawinski, Sewer Superintendent Don Obuchowski, Senior Center Director Michelle Edelstein and Building Commissioner John Couture.
“In this town, that is a high-powered list of names,” Selectmen David Hall said. “There’s a lot of effort from well-connected and knowledgeable people involved in this.”
The Board approved the plan with a 5-0 vote.
The plan will be reviewed again in five years.
To view the full plan, visit cmrpc.org/ hazard-mitigation-planning.
“This is a great program and policy for the Town of Sutton,” Selectmen Chair John Hebert said. “I’m really impressed with the local partners. It’s so much easier to work together. Communication is a plus.”