Dixfield residents to vote on wind ordinance

DIXFIELD — Residents will vote Tuesday on a controversial ordinance to regulate wind power projects.

The vote was originally set for June 12 but postponed in May after a public hearing where dozens of residents voiced opinions of such developments.

Selectmen decided to take the information gained at the hearing and postpone the ordinance vote until Election Day. Meanwhile, they did more research on the financial impacts of a wind farm in Dixfield, as well as addressing specific concerns of residents.

Three years ago Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., approached Dixfield about constructing 13 wind turbines on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge.  Since then, the company has been conducting research on the ridge, including wind tests, bird studies and environmental impacts.

The ordinance has been a controversial topic for residents. Many argue that wind turbines will be helpful to the town's economy and a step in the right direction for green energy. Others believe it will destroy the ridgeline environment, devalue property in the immediate area and create too much noise.

Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky, a proponent of the ordinance, said it would be “a great opportunity to stabilize the tax base.” If it's voted down, selectmen will draft an ordinance that would prohibit the construction of wind farms in town, he said previously.

“Basically, it comes down to this vote,” Skibitsky said. “If you're in favor of wind power, vote yes.  If you're not in favor of wind power, vote no.”

Selectman Hart Daley said he's against the ordinance even being on the ballot.  The board submitted the ordinance to Brunswick lawyer Kristen Collins for a legal opinion, he said, and when she returned it “27 of the 34 pages had suggested changes on them.” However, Daley said the ordinance being placed before voters has not taken these changes into consideration.

“People are voting on an ordinance that doesn't have all the legal changes,” Daley said. In a previous meeting, he said, Tom Carroll, project coordinator for Patriot Renewables said the company wouldn't put a shovel in the ground until 2015, which would give the board plenty of time to amend the ordinance.

“It's not about pro-wind or anti-wind,” he said, adding he's notagainst "green energy.”

“I just don't think the wind farm is the way to go,” Daley said. “It's not a good financial decision for this town.”

Carroll said even if the ordinance passes Nov. 6, there's still a lot of work to do.

“We still have to do more bird and bat tests, and there's still the matter of getting all the right permits,” he said.

Carroll also said the other towns approached by Patriot Renewables, such as Canton and Carthage, initially had the same reaction as residents of Dixfield, but over time, the company was granted approval to move forward with the project.

The ordinance states that turbines must be 4,000 feet from property lines. It also regulates the level of noise allowed during daytime and nighttime hours.  It also contains plans for decommissioning and land restoration once the development ceases operation.

In addition to the ordinance, voters will choose between former Selectman Norine Clarke and former Planning Board member Norman Mitchell for selectman and decide whether the town should begin steps to withdraw from RSU 10. Voters will also decide whether to take $50,000 from taxes or surplus to pay for the withdrawal effort.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

The ordinance actually states

The ordinance actually states that turbines must be 4000 feet from occupied structures, not property lines. This ordinance is so confusing, even a good reporter isn't able to clarify it's meaning. Vote NO, as this ordinance is not ready

 's picture

Thing are not what they seem

Lincoln has 4 TIFs, One might think our town would be in great shape but OOPSIE!! We have a financial debacle to the tune of a million and a half bucks . Will our taxes skyrocket? The windsprawl TIF should not have happened as the TIF idea is to create a zone where manufacturing might set up and offer jobs to the community. There are a couple maintenance guys in town from California and an engineer from North Carolina temporarily. . Where are the job for the locals? The TIF was a waste of time, not to mention stiffing the state with reduced revenue and double depreciation further reducing funds. Protect the people from financial gimmicks and schemes with strict regs. The ISO NE states wind power goes into the grid and HYDRO power is cut back!! How does that reduce fossil fuel use? How can they claim renewable energy credits when hydro is what is replaced? That is absurd, and too many of our legislators are asleep at the wheel if they allow this to continue.

 's picture

Patriot Renewables is the

Patriot Renewables is the same company that said Saddleback Mountain in Carthage had NO migratory bird activity over it even though residents have watched flocks migrating over this mountain for generations. Allowing the industrial wind developers to be in charge of these wildlife studies ensures that the results will be totally skewed in their favor. This is just a small example of a very large problem when it comes to transparency. The stricter the wind ordinance, the better. There will be no second chances to get this right. Protect the residents. Protect their quality of life and their property values. They were here first, long before the subsidy-seeking wind companies who prey on small, rural, financially challenged and hence very vulnerable Maine towns.

 's picture

In reality, wind and solar

In reality, wind and solar cannot live with cheap natural gas (because they cannot possibly compete with it) and cannot live without it (because they only work 20% of the time and need gas as constant backup power).

 's picture

OK, first promise me, your

OK, first promise me, your friendly wind developer, a whole lot of taxpayer money for participating in this wind energy nonsense, then force it's use, by law, onto the ratepayers, so I get even more profit from it, and I promise to make donations throughout town using your own money. GOTCHA !

 's picture

granted approval;?

If buying out everyone with-in 42 Dba of turbines is granting approval...you got it TOM Carroll.
The latest buy out in Canton with the Smalls was very small of your company.

Money does talk but....you walk away and we live with GRID scale WIND.

Town manager.....please read up on this global scam......check out windtaskforce.org for the unraveling of this political machine...you are smarter than this scam.

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