Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Maine
Without dissent or discussion, town meeting voters Monday night quickly approved a moratorium ordinance that will delay any wind-power project for 180 days.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick opened the debate at the meeting Thursday, saying he wished to put the Rumford ordinance back onto the ballot in part because the committee spent seven to nine months in preparing it. However, he noted that the town's Charter says that cannot be done. "There's a lot of pros and cons (to wind power), and I feel the taxpayers of Rumford, when they go and vote, they ought to have a choice," he said.
Debate over turbine noise and other wind-energy issues is expected to continue in Farmington and New Vineyard, where town officials have prepared ordinances to regulate wind energy within their respective borders. Voters will consider the proposals at annual town meetings in March and April, according to town officials. Selectmen and town officials plan to review public comments and possibly make revisions before final versions are presented to voters.
Debates such as this one about turbine noise and other wind-energy issues are expected to continue in Farmington and New Vineyard, where town officials have prepared ordinances to regulate wind energy within their respective borders. Voters will consider the proposals at annual town meetings in March and April.
Selectmen Mark Belanger, Jeff Sterling and Chairman Brad Adley said they want to better understand noise decibels, and what sounds they can expect to hear from turbine-topped ridges under a variety of atmospheric conditions. They want firsthand accounts by taking a field trip to the Mars Hill wind farm, listening to turbines and talking with residents and municipal officials.
Members of the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board met Monday night to discuss the importance of forming a committee to write an ordinance on wind power development. Former Selectman Bill Hine said other towns are struggling to set up such ordinances.
Under the new rules, wind turbines are required to be 2,500 feet -- less than half a mile -- from the nearest permanent or seasonal residence. The setback limitation generated the most discussion during the hour-long meeting attended by about 25 residents and non-residents, Selectman Donald Beane said.
Planning Board members have determined that the town's commercial use ordinance cannot be applied to an anticipated application for a wind turbine substation tentatively planned for construction off the Canton Point Road.
By 34-1 vote at a special town meeting on November 23, Deer Isle residents approved a moratorium ordinance on wind turbines that would primarily supply electricity to off-site (commercial) customers. Small turbines for personal use will not be covered by the moratorium.
The Land Use Regulation Commission on Wednesday approved the reclassification of nearly 700 acres of Washington County timberland as a fast-track zone for industrial wind-site development, clearing the way for a 25- or 26-turbine facility in Kossuth Township.
After a few dozen residents stated Monday night that they had not been given ample opportunity to review a proposed wind farm ordinance, town officials agreed to schedule another public information session on the proposal for next month.
Under the proposed ordinance, any wind turbine would be set back 2,500 feet from a permanent or seasonal residence; would be designed to avoid shadow flicker effects; would have to meet specific sound level limits; and would require a decommissioning policy.
"A moratorium was basically to prevent permitting until we adopted something. That's all," Belanger said. "Not that you can't talk about it, not that you can't lobby something. I mean, we're in America." Buccina said he is aware of that, but doesn't believe wind power developer First Wind LLC of Boston should be buying land or lobbying Rumford residents during a moratorium.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said he believed the majority of people were concerned that the ordinance was too restrictive, and that the ballot question may have been confusing to some. "My concern from the beginning was regulation, to regulate but not to prohibit," he said.
Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky said the matter of zoning has never been a favorable issue in his town. "I'm surprised that it was this close," he said. He said selectmen will discuss the implications of that vote.
The 21 pages of amendments would add a property value assurance provision and an ethics clause, set a townwide limit of five turbines and increase setback requirements, as well as the amount in an escrow account set up to cover the cost of any future decommissioning of the turbines.
Selectmen have believed that the setback applied to occupied dwellings. However, the wording of the ordinance is so unclear that the 4,000-foot setback could be from access roads, wetlands, power lines and substations, Carroll said.
"There is a great deal of controversy about noise, and we were not happy with any of the other solutions that were presented," he said. The town worked with an acoustic engineer to draw up rules that change based on individual turbines. Louder turbines need to be farther back.
"An ordinance would insure an application process that is transparent, protects the town financially and [has] a code of ethics to avoid conflicts of interest from being part of the process," Gray said.
Buccina argued with Kiely that when he worked on the ordinance's technical portions, he relied on the opinions of experts and then applied that to protect the town's assets. "This is a wind ordinance for Rumford," Buccina said. "It's not about First Wind. The people of our community need to be protected.