CARTHAGE — Residents on Monday night narrowly defeated a moratorium that would have slowed plans for an industrial wind farm along Saddleback ridge. The vote was 48-42.
One of the circulators of a petition that forced the special town meeting, Bill Houghton, said he has no plans to take any other action at this time.
“This was about what the people wanted,” he said after the meeting.
First Selectman Steve Brown said the defeat of the six-month moratorium was one less hurdle that the town didn't create.
“They still have a lot of hurdles,” he said, of Patriot Renewables LLC plan to construct 13 wind turbines along the ridge, and another four if the town receives clear title to an adjacent 320 acres.
Brown announced another potential hurdle after the meeting. The 320 acres have been referred to as town lands for decades, and the town has been advertising for heirs of the last known property owner for months.
He said someone claiming to be an heir of Benjamin Weld, whose family was the last known owner, stepped forward Monday afternoon. He said that person has asked the court for an extension to determine ownership. The issue has been in the hands of Rumford lawyer Jennifer Kreckel.
Monday's town meeting began with with a contest for moderator between Carthage resident Hurchial Noyes and Dixfield resident David Harvey. Noyes was elected 30-18.
He stepped down as moderator to give his opinion on wind turbine development.
“If we vote this down, if they (Patriot Renewables) don't go ahead, they won't be here in six months. This is probably our last chance to make some money,” he said.
“Money is not the issue,” said Faye Hutchinson, who asked everyone who lives in South Carthage to stand.
About eight stood up. The access road would be from the Winter Hill Road, off Route 2, which is in South Carthage.
“We were told there was nothing we could do. There's the noise level, a lot of questions. The moratorium doesn't do away with turbines, but gives us time for questions,” Houghton said.
Resident James McGill asked whether the town would be open to a lawsuit by people whose 1,000 acres are under option to buy by Patriot Renewables.
Brown said the town has a legal right to vote on a moratorium, but he didn't know if a suit could be brought.
Joan McGill said the developers have to jump through lots of hoops for the Department of Environmental Protection permitting process.
“Other people are throwing out a lot of he-said, she-said. Let's have some hard facts. You can get guidelines from the DEP, if property values change, that can be proven. You have neighbor against neighbor. Let's have some hard facts,” she said.
Frank Hutchinson agreed that hard facts were needed.
“That's what this moratorium is for. We are saying think it over,” he said.
Donna Berry was ready to call for a vote.
“This is the third meeting of windbagging. Let's vote,” she said.
An overwhelming majority agreed to do just that.
According to Patriot Renewables officials who made a presentation on June 10, plans are to submit the DEP application by the end of the summer.