Wind ordinance angst builds in Rumford

RUMFORD — Depending on what selectmen decide at next Wednesday's special meeting, voters trying to adopt an ordinance on Nov. 2 to regulate wind farms could face two proposals instead of one.

Currently, selectmen have accepted one proposed ordinance from the Wind Power Advisory Committee, which spent nine months adapting Dixmont's ordinance for Rumford.

Like the Dixmont ordinance, the committee's document was quickly labeled anti-wind last month by Neil Kiely of First Wind LLC of Newton, Mass.

First Wind has tentatively proposed constructing a $60 million, 12-turbine project on sections of Black Mountain and a nearby mountain.

Kiely said that if this ordinance passes in November, such action would be a permanent moratorium on wind power.

That's why Board of Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley recently proposed a second ordinance: the Maine State Planning Office's Model Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.

That ordinance, which follows wind power development standards determined by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, has been labeled pro-wind.

“My position is the people of this town deserve another option if we can get there and give them a good viable option,” Adley said late Thursday afternoon.

“It's late in the game, so we're trying to hustle to get this second option up and let the voters tell us and see where it all goes. Once the dust settles out of the election, whatever rule book they give us, we'll play by that rule book.”

He said that without a second option, he fears that Rumford would be left without protection from wind farm development should voters defeat the committee's ordinance.

Both proposals can be accessed from the town's website at www.rumfordmaine.net.

When he broached the off-agenda topic at Wednesday night's special board meeting — Kiely was present, but didn't say anything — Adley immediately ran afoul of Selectman Greg Buccina, who staunchly defended the committee's document.

Both Adley and Buccina were members of the committee and both helped draft its ordinance proposal, even though selectmen never tasked the committee with doing so, something that also raised Selectman Mark Belanger's ire Wednesday night.

Adley sought to fast-track a vote by the whole board on the second option by having them meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in Rumford Falls Auditorium, because he and Belanger can't attend Thursday's regular board meeting. That's when the Nov. 2 ordinance warrant would have been voted.

Buccina and Adley argued, with Adley advocating the second proposal and Buccina sticking with the first proposal.

“I don't think a second ordinance is needed,” Buccina said. “I think you ask citizens to get involved — and they did — and then all of a sudden we say, 'We don't like what they have so we've come up with something else?' I don't think that's politically good.”

Later, Buccina said he didn't think the second proposal “does anything to protect the citizens of this community.”

“It's a pro-wind ordinance,” Buccina said. “All that is, is a gateway for companies to do whatever they want to do with wind.”

He then asked if the state model was “so good,” then why aren't other towns also adopting it?

Adley ignored the question, instead asking the board as a whole to vote on both proposals next week.

Raising his voice, Buccina then said of the pro-wind ordinance, “Why the hell do we need that thing? Why is that all important? You want to have a special meeting on a piece of legislation that we haven't had ample time to review, and only because a couple people aren't in favor of an ordinance we took nine months to develop?”

“I've never taken a position on that,” Adley said. “I think the citizens deserve two options.”

“And I don't,” Buccina said.

After choosing next Wednesday to decide the matter, Belanger weighed in, also raising his voice.

“When this whole committee thing was designed, it was advisory only,” he said. “And as we went through the process, I kept asking Brad where we're at, and all of a sudden you guys were making an ordinance and we never authorized them to do an ordinance.”

“And you never said anything,” Buccina said.

“Because (Brad) kept saying to me, 'We're going to tweak it at the end!'” Belanger said. “That's the only reason I didn't stir up any crap. And I'll tell you what, I'll stir up crap.”

“You go right ahead,” Buccina said.

“I will,” Belanger said.

“You have every right to do that,” Buccina said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Oh, Candiceanne!

My dear, you get so worked up! Thanks for the great rants---good entertainment. My best laugh was your TIF remarks. He! He! Ask your dear friend Mr. Kiely how many First Wind projects in Maine have they not demanded a TIF. In Lincoln, they said straight out No TIF, no wind project. They just said the same thing in Eastbrook. They secured TIFs in Mars Hill and with the Washington County Commissioners for Stetson and these same commissioners have voted a TIF for the Bowers Mt. proposal before there was even an application submitted. At the July 1, 2010 Selectman's meeting, at which I'm sure you took copious notes, Kiely said First Wind would seek tax increment financing from Rumford for the project. You see, this is such a delicate financial deck of cards that every conceivable hand out is needed to make it work.
Now, my well intentioned blogger, you surely show that in spite of the voluminous nature of your rant, you don't know a thing about the TIF laws when you state: "In fact, state rules governing TIFs would not permit a TIF to cover a wind power project because of the depleted value of the town and county" My first reaction to that is "Huh???" It makes no sense, unless, of course Rumford has TIF'd the entire value of the paper mill and Rumford Power. I have memorized the Lincoln First Wind TIF document like some people memorize the Gettysburg Address. Have you ever consulted with Brian Hodges, the state official who reviews TIFs? Please, dear, don't allege that I know nothing about TIFs. No hurt feeling, though, OK?
Last point, then off to bed. What the hell is your reference to "state processes" that took 15 years, etc. Whew! That entire paragraph is one run on rant sentence! Anyhow, to set your record straight, on May 8, 2007, an executive order was signed by Gov. Baldacci creating the Governor's Task Force on Wind Power Development. Its membership was selected by Baldacci to create what he wanted and citizen input was never sought. On April 18, 2008, Gov. Baldacci signed into law S.P. 908 - An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Wind Power Development. The bill was deemed an "Emergency" measure (?) and rammed through the short session of the Legislature in 15 days, with little opportunity for the citizens of this state to even be aware of it, and certainly with no opportunity to comment. Many legislators I have spoken to knew what the bill was about and had no idea of its ramifications. So, May 8, 2007 to April 18, 2008 is less than one year. Not 15 years.
Candiceanne, really! You are likely a nice person and a loyal citizen of Rumford. I don't know how you can believe so strongly in wind power if you actually research and educate yourself the way you say you do. But keep these delightful diatribes coming! And mangling facts and twisting reality is OK. They are outrageously delightful entertainment!

 's picture

Subpoenas Served on First Wind/UPC Wind and Noble Environmental

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO WIND POWER COMPANIES' CONDUCT ACROSS UPSTATE NEW YORK
Allegations of Improper Dealings with Public Officials and Anti-Competitive Practices

Subpoenas Served on First Wind/UPC Wind and Noble Environmental Power, LLC

http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2008/jul/july15a_08.html

 's picture

First Wind Wants its Way

Dear Candiceanne, you obviously are a strong advocate of wind power development, so I can understand why you are so upset that a group of citizens might work diligently on an ordinance to guide the siting of huge industrial machines in town. My goodness, they might have concerns for the impact on the health and wellbeing of all the citizens of Rumford by such a development.

First Wind cries foul any time it doesn't get its way and they depend on a chorus of wind advocates to join in. Rumford should tell First Wind to get out of town and have nothing to do with this pitiful company. You are naive if you think that First Wind hasn't been working hard to defeat the citizen's proposed ordinance. The model state ordinance is a sham that allows them to have their way. The expedited wind permitting statute gives them preferential treatment, rolls back environmental protection that would apply to every other development, and strips citizens of their rights to determine what happens in their own town.

Rumford is getting the same treatment that Lincoln got in dealing with First Wind. These masters of manipulation have been after Rumford officials for years. They lie, misrepresent, withhold information, and adopt an attitude of its their way or no way. They look for local welfare via TIF to heap on top of all the other subsidies they get. It is refreshing to see that in just two years there has been a change between the Lincoln and Rumford situations. In Lincoln, the project was made public after six years of secretive meetings and manipulations between First Wind and town officials. By the time the citizens in Lincoln were aware, they were dealing with an application being rammed through. At least in Rumford, the citizens are involved earlier in the process.

The runaway train of the First Wind project in Lincoln Lakes has been stopped for two years by a citizens group. It has caused terrible rifts and hard feelings in the town. This happens in every community where wind developers go. Sadly, it is happening in Rumford, too. The ordinance that came from the citizens' group deserves an up or down vote, seperately, on its own merits. Let the debate be centered around Rumford citizens' vote on that proposal, not the interests of First Wind. Rumford belongs to its citizens, not First Wind.

ANCESTORS

If our ancestors would have thoughts the way our Wind Advisory committee are thinking and trying to promote. We would not have a mill in the center of our town right now. Think of the emissions that have covered our town over the years. Wind is clean energy production. And when it comes to a vote. Which it shouldn't have come to this point in this manner. It should be done during a regular election time ,June or Noember at not at any special election date,

Advisory Only

Mr. Belanger you are correct. It was set up for advisrory only. Not to write an ordinance. There were two selectboard members and the town manager on this committee that allowed the committee to overstep once again what it was originally set up to do. Another look at special interest people being put on a committee to get what they want and not what the people want. Remember what the tally was for the non-binding poll. Windpower was favored Mr. Buccina.

The Only Thing missing

is you dj still hiding the closet afraid to come out so people will recognize you and know why you are on the bandwagon of so much discontent . You should change your hidden self to dj_inda_dark closet. That's what's wrong with the blogs. It gives cowards more safety. They don't want people to see who they really are because it gives the people the knowledge to realize why they are the way they are. Disgruntled , vindictive, lonely people who just like to cause trouble.

 's picture

Rules

Brad say's he will play by the rules from either ordinance, since when has he played by the rules in the past?

I thought this was a selectman's meeting sounds like a shouting match among a bunch of kids trying to change the rules mid-stream. This shows what the caliber is of our elected board.

 's picture

Bribery advisory

Did anyone see the "advisory" sent out last month by Bernstein Shur?

Shana Cook Mueller represents wind companies. I wonder what prompted the issuance of the advisory?

ADVISORY
Bribery and Threats in Official and Political Matters
– Duty of Public Officials to Report –
By Shana Cook Mueller & Philip Saucier | August 2nd, 2010
It is commonly known that it is a crime to bribe or threaten a public official with the intent to
influence a decision. Many people may be unaware, however, that a public official may also be
guilty of a crime if he or she does not report the threat or unaccepted bribe to a law
enforcement officer. The punishment for the failure to report a bribe or threat with the intent
to influence is the same as making the threat or bribe itself and can carry up to a 5-year
prison sentence. Title 17-A M.R.S.A. Sections 601-603.
Thankfully, in Bernstein Shur’s long tenure representing municipal governments, instances of
threats or bribery have arisen on an extremely rare basis. However, it is important for public
officials to understand their obligations to report and the potential criminal responsibility
associated with such circumstances. If you have any questions regarding this statute or
others, please contact Phil Saucier at psaucier@bernsteinshur.com and 207-228-7160 or
Shana Cook Mueller at smueller@bernsteinshur.com and 207-228-7134.

http://www.bernsteinshur.com/files-publications/08%2002%20Municipal%20Of...

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