Selectmen vote to place wind ordinance on ballot

RUMFORD — Upon learning Wednesday night that the Maine State Planning Office's model wind ordinance was merely a template and not an actual working document, selectmen voted 4-1 to put only one ordinance before voters in November.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

At a special meeting Wednesday, Rumford Selectman Mark Belanger, left, listens as Selectman Greg Buccina states why he would not support placing a state model wind power ordinance on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

At Wednesday night's workshop between Rumford selectmen and Andy Fisk of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Fisk answers previously submitted questions from the board about the Maine State Planning Office's Model Wind Energy Facility Ordinance. Fisk later told the board that the ordinance was meant as a template to be tweaked and not a working ordinance.

The proposed ordinance is the culmination of nine months of work and research by the Board of Selectmen's Wind Power Advisory Committee.

It is a document that Neil Keily of Massachusetts-based wind developer First Wind LLC publicly labeled a permanent moratorium on wind farms. First Wind has tentatively proposed building a wind farm atop Rumford mountains.

About 50 people attending the workshop and special selectmen's meeting that followed in Rumford Falls Auditorium also learned from Board of Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley that someone allegedly threatened Adley, an unnamed selectman and Town Manager Carlo Puiia with an ethics investigation if they included the state model wind ordinance on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Adley said that after speaking with fellow board members, “we're aware that (the state model) is nowhere near ready, so we're going to leave it at that.”

Adley recently pitched to the board and strongly advocated that the state ordinance be placed on the ballot as a working ordinance.

After Adley sought a motion to put an ordinance on the Nov. 2 ballot, Selectman Jeff Sterling asked that it be the Town of Rumford Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.

Discussion began after it was seconded by Selectman Greg Buccina, a staunch advocate of the committee's ordinance, which he and Adley helped to create.

Selectman Mark Belanger said he didn't like either ordinance.

He wanted to extend the moratorium on wind power projects to draft an ordinance that would incorporate "the best of both worlds.”

Buccina read a statement wherein he summarized the committee's work and cited distinctions between the two documents to prove his stance.

He said that after its first few meetings, the committee decided it would be in the town's best interest to draft an ordinance.

“We decided to create an ordinance that would be designed to first and foremost protect the citizens of this community and secondly, to allow a wind development facility to come into the community if it were to comply with the Rumford wind ordinance,” Buccina said.

He said the state model ordinance was meant to be retrofitted with protective standards that could be more or less restrictive than state regulations.

“I truly believe the Rumford ordinance drafted by its citizens far exceeds the state model, which was intended to be provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to render any legal advice,” Buccina said.

He said it would be "totally irresponsible” for the board to put the state model before voters and urged selectmen “to do what is best for our citizens and endorse the Rumford ordinance as written.”

Many in the audience erupted in loud applause.

Sterling said he saw the committee's ordinance as a logical conclusion to the process started nine months ago.

“I think that if this ordinance is voted in the affirmative, it will be the will of the people and we'll be on our way,” he said.

“If it isn't — and I'm certainly not advocating either position — but if it isn't, we'll just have to go back to the drawing board and start over again on Day One after the election.”

Sterling said that after the board's vote, it became the job of wind power proponents and opponents to sell their positions to the public.

“That hasn't been our job from the very beginning,” Sterling said. “Our job is to just move the process along and see it to a logical conclusion, so I would advocate yes to put this on the ballot.”

Reading from a statement, resident Candace Casey argued that the committee was only designed to educate the public and selectmen, and not to draft an ordinance.

Adopting the committee's ordinance, in her opinion, would be bad for the economic development of Rumford, she read.

Adley then addressed the alleged intimidation attempt.

“I'm a little troubled by this, but Carlo and I had a visitor last Friday,” he said. “It was on the verge of political blackmail, but he said that two selectmen and Carlo would be investigated for ethics violations if we moved forward with the second proposal.”

Calling that revelation unexpected and “disturbing,” Adley said he backed away from advocating the state model.

Puiia, on the other hand, said he didn't see being warned by more than one person that they would be investigated for unethical conduct or behavior as a threat.

“It's a bunch of horse crap, to me,” Puiia said, and urged all to put it behind them and move forward. “This board has done a good job.”

Puiia said it's his job to remain impartial and to represent all Rumford residents no matter their political divides.

“I'm not supposed to sell wind and I'm not supposed to regulate. It's the citizens' decision,” Puiia said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Noise of wind turbines...

If the noise of wind turbines is a problem, why is the noise of the paper mill not a problem? The noise of motorcycles is not a problem. The noise of snowmobiles is not a problem. The noise of 24 wheelers is not a problem. But the noise of wind turbines is a problem.

Intimidation Attempt

That is the problem with serving on any town boards and owning a business in the town you serve. There are cowards out there that will threaten you if you don't vote their way. Mr. Adley should have gotten mad instead of backing down to this form of intimidation and should have reported the individuals to law enforcement as a threat. Instead he sold himself to the threarteners and sold out on his integrity. This is what makes up anti winders. Save your integrity Mr. Adley and earn back some of the respect you have been losing by reporting who threatened you. That's the right thing to do.

methane and wind power

that's what you get when you put a lot of politicians in one room...just think if you could harness all that power ( they are full of both)

Brad Blake's picture

Why a strong wind ordinance?

The whole idea behind an ordinance is to guide any wind developer who wants to locate in Rumford. Failure to have a strong ordinance in place will condemn the health and well being of many citizens of Rumford. Of the three industrial wind sites in Maine that are located near where people live, all three are out of compliance with state noise limits in the licenses. All three use the same GE 1.5 MW turbines that First Wind would likely use in a Rumford project. Any other model that First Wind might use will likely have similar noise problems.

At Mars Hill, it is well known that noise has been such a problem that the state granted a variance from 45 dBA to 50 dBA and there are still noise readings that exceed the higher limit. When Dr. Michael Nissenbaum issued his findings in 2010 from his medical study at Mars Hill, he recommended a 7000-foot setback for public health. There has been no remediation by First Wind, so residents of East Ridge Road and Mountain Road must resort to suing First Wind.

Just last week, at Vinalhaven, the State DEP’s own noise consultant, Warren Brown, after analyzing sound studies resulting from complaints, wrote: “there exists a significant body of consistent meteorological and sound data indicating sound levels greater than applicable limits. Substantial changes are recommended for FIW nighttime operations.

In May of this year, Acoustics expert Robert Rand of Brunswick revealed the results of his research at Freedom, indicating that noise at that site was substantially out of compliance with 45 dBA more than one mile from the turbines. His report is being finalized for presentation to the DEP. In the first publication of his findings, in an article co-written with another acoustics engineer, Stephen Ambrose, they state: “Currently there is no effective, reliable noise mitigation for wind turbines of this size other than shutdown. Therefore, at this time it appears appropriate that proposed wind turbine sites should position wind turbines at least one mile away from residential properties and further for sites with more than one wind turbine.” Ambrose and Rand are both members of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering and highly respected in their field.

 's picture

Candiceanne's migraine

Poor candiceanne, you get a migraine from witnessing good citizen action? Or is it the need for protecting the citizens of Rumford that makes you nauseous? If you think you have a migraine now, try living near these wind turbines, like the folks in Mars Hill. Some of the most common symptoms are headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, and heart palpitations. See Dr. Michael Nissenbaum's study here: http://www.windaction.org/?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=2043

 's picture

Party!!!!!!

Party!!!!!!

Fred Stone's picture

Party

That shows your intelligence in one word.

 's picture

good bye, don't

let us keep you any longer. The people of the State of Maine do NOT need you and your attitude any longer.

 's picture

You hit the

nail on the head! Thank you for pointing out how Rumford politics really work. I love it!

 's picture

The Will of The People Ignored Again

Last night I attended the special meeting of the Rumford Board of Selectmen. If you ever want to know what is really going on, sit in the back, you can see everything, to put it mildly, I was appalled.

The first hour was a workshop, where Mr. Andy Fisk from Maine DEP answering the questions Town Manager Puiia sent him that had arisen from previous workshops discussing the states model wind power ordinance and any other questions the selectmen, town manager and audience may have. This was a very interesting hour with the most education that has been provided to the citizens of Rumford the duration of this process. Among there interesting points, was much on the noise issue. Mr. Fisk explained that the state model was developed using outside technical consultants as other information such as the World Health Organization did not exist at the time. He also explained that the regulations do not apply only to wind power but to all noise sources. Any industry wishing to come to Maine therefore would be held to the same standards. Mr. Fisk also explained the differences in requirements between requirements between for example existing industrial areas such as downtown Portland with working steel salvage operations and rural Maine. He also explained the differences in “short duration repetitive” sound as opposed to occasional or consistent. DEP and their model have taken all of this into account. Furthermore, he explained the boundary issue. DEP’s model works on a boundary limit based on sound where Rumford is distance from the facility. In DEP’s model the distance begins where a specified decibel threshold is achieved which provides greater protection. In the DEP model the nearest inhabited structure must not be closer than 2500 feet from the point at which 45 decibels is measured. In the Rumford Committee’s ordinance it is a set 5000 feet from the turbine no matter what the noise or other conditions. In the state model, science and established recognized tools are used.

Flicker is another issue we have been hearing a lot about from those who oppose wind power and it was also covered in the state model. Mr. Fisk explained that the state sought the advice of outside consultants who established, not the state or wind power companies, that 30 hours per year of flicker was not unreasonable. There are also limits on flicker in shorter time periods such as in a day included in the model. He also explained that Flicker is determined using analysis tools such as Wind Pro or another tool approved by the governing body. In projects under DEP oversight they set the tool parameters in Rumford, we would. Mr. Fisk explained that shadow flicker is a consequence of the angle at which the sun passes high or low on the horizon. With Maine being so far north, we experience more hours of shadow and therefore would experience more hours of shadow flicker than locations closer to the equator. Shadow flicker is what we experience during the times of the year when the sun is low on the horizon (winter months) and passes behind trees and there is a breeze moving the trees. The wind turbine blades moving in the wind with the sun shining through them will do the same thing for some days some hours. Since they are 400 feet or so up in the air as well as on the mountain tops it isn’t all that bad or all that much which is why the 30 hours is way more than would normally be needed and more than most people experience in their environment from natural sources l the sun through the trees.

After Mr. Fisk answered the questions sent to him and any others that people had the workshop was adjourned. The special selectmen’s meeting was then opened. Brad Adley informed us that the state model amended for Rumford would not be ready in time to be placed on the November ballot. We were told that he opposed the committee proposed ordinance and considered it a detriment to economic development of Rumford not only in terms of wind power but overall. Mark Bellanger concurred with Mr. Adley and repeated his previous objections and that he too feels the passage of this would be highly detrimental to the economic future of Rumford. Mr. Adley served on the wind power committee and has expressed his concern for quite some time. Mr. Bellanger has been attempting to get information to no avail and has expressed his concern for many months as well. Selectman Greg Buccina than read a lengthy typed statement that in my opinion he did not write. I felt this way as soon as he began. Why do I believe he did not write this statement? I do I believe these were not his words? To begin with he had great difficulty with the statement as though it were the first time he had read it, not his words. Secondly, he kept turning the pages over as though he expected there to be printing on the back which is not something one does when they write and print their own speech. Thirdly, the language used in the speech, the words and phrases, were not words and phrases Greg normally uses nor in ways he uses them, which leads me to believe someone else wrote this, handed it to him just before the meeting and ordered him to make the statement or else.

Only one citizen got up and spoke. As usual, Candice Casey came well prepared and raised a number of points we should all consider. She first pointed out the mission of the Wind Power Advisory Committee that they themselves acknowledge having printed this in their approved minutes of December 14, 2009. These can be found along with the minutes of all their meetings which are also worthy of reading in their entirety for a better understanding of just what the motives of these people have been all along. The on the Town’s website http://www.rumfordmaine.net/ The Mission Statement: The mission of the Rumford Wind Power Advisory Committee is to educate the community as to the true advantages and disadvantages of industrial wind farms in our community and to develop a proposal for the best interest of the residents of the Town of Rumford.

Ms. Casey pointed out that the first step is to educate the community on what wind power is. She is right when she said this has not been done. She said the second step was to educate the community on the advantages and disadvantage of industrial wind farms in our community. That is exactly what the mission statement of the Wind Power Advisory Committee says they are to do. She is also correct when she says they have not done that. She also pointed out that at this same meeting (December 14, 2009) the committee determined to limit public input to 5 or 10 minutes at the beginning or end of their meetings which in my opinion is certainly not indicative of a desire to involve or educate the community. She than reported and I have confirmed by reviewing the minutes of the meetings online that every minute of every meeting after the initial meeting was spent reworking the Dixmont ordinance which has been labeled a permanent moratorium on wind power to be even more prohibitive. Ms. Casey expressed her opinion that the decision to proceed with the development of an ordinance should have gone to the voters once they had received the education as stated in the Mission Statement. I have to agree. We the People of Rumford voted 751 to 364 in favor of Wind Power in our community. This is getting to be a habit. The people vote and a special interest group doesn’t like the will of the people and so they get an “emergency” declared or an ordinance written for consideration and that conflicts with the already stated will of the people, have an “emergency” declared, and we pay to vote again, and again, again until we get it right, right being the way the special interest group wants it.

After Ms. Casey spoke, it was reported by Chairman Brad Adley, Selectman Mark Bellanger and Town Carlo Puiia that they had received multiple threats by multiple parties with the anti-wind contingent. These are the same folk who have been posting that government officials are being bribed and coerced by First Wind and others in the industry. Now the truth comes out that it is those who oppose wind power in our community, those who oppose economic development through wind and probably any other source who are guilty of these actions. We were informed that the actions of these criminals has been successful and the citizens of Rumford will be presented with the ban on wind power ordinance prepared by the Wind Power Advisory Committee which was actual a special interest group opposed to wind power from the beginning and no alternative. You can see these statements for yourself if you have cable; the meeting was recorded for the access channel. You can expect no education as to the advantages or disadvantages as promised in the mission statement as a result of this activity.
At the opening of this post, I said I attended last night’s special meeting of the Rumford Board of Selectmen and f you ever want to know what is really going on, sit in the back, you can see everything, to put it mildly, I was appalled. I was appalled. I was appalled from the beginning by the conduct of the audience from the beginning of the workshop when Mr. Fisk got up to speak. At that time I did not know why, as I am not part of this special interest group, but there was much snickering. It was embarrassing, this man came quite some distance to honestly and sincerely answer our questions and aid our community and we have “adults” snickering like school girls in the audience. I believe they were snickering because they knew they had threatened and intimidated members of the Board of Selectmen into doing their will rather than the right thing, the will of the people and that Mr. Fisk was wasting his time. This special interest group already knew the outcome because they “bought” it with threats and intimidation at the very least. The behavior worsened when Mr. Adley and Mr. Bellanger spoke. The worst was when Ms. Casey spoke. Her statement began with, something to the effect, before the meeting I provided you with copies of the minutes of the meeting of the Wind Power Advisory Committee Meeting to which I will be referring. They seemed to find that hilarious. This group has made a mockery of our elected officials, our express will at the polls and our due process. The only time there was silence was when Mr. Buccina read his “prepared” statement which further leads me to believe it was supplied by this special interest group.

In November the voters of Rumford are once again going to the polls to vote on wind power. Because the Wind Power Advisory Committee did not even attempt to fulfill its mission: The mission of the Rumford Wind Power Advisory Committee is to educate the community as to the true advantages and disadvantages of industrial wind farms in our community. You are deliberately being placed in a position of having to vote from a position of ignorance in order for a special interest group to manipulate you into voting in an ordinance that suits them. I hope you will see this for what it is and vote NO and keep voting NO until we are provided with the education we were promised and deserve.

 's picture

Citizens in favor of wind power must act

Rumford citizens in favor of wind power must reject this wind power ordinance. They must not cave in to a minority group of Republican Conservatives because they are loud. It is time for the majority to bring our town out of the "dark ages."

The beauty of voting is that it will be by secret ballot so intimidation by the wind turbine Republican Conservatives will just be wind blowing in the River Valley.

 's picture

That's exactly why

the State has encouraged comprehensive plans and programs like Beginning with Habitat. It's OK to have a plan for our communities--a vision for how we want them to look and feel 10 years, 20 years, 50 years down the road. That is all this is--an opportunity. And this is the only chance to take control as a wind company that has lied repeatedly in other communities is breathing down your necks. They treat small communities in Maine like third world countries. As it turns out, we're smarter and more resourceful than they gave us credit for, with a love of our land and a desire for fairness.

 's picture

"We the People" rule by Home Rule and the Maine Constitution!

Rumford is most wise to utilize their constitutional home rule rights, the right to design their own protective ordinance. The populace there will approve it in Rumford, and First Wind's coercive influence they try everywhere will be contained. Rumford and other Towns must ordinance their communities for the protection of their citizens.
Lincoln Lakes (Rollins Project) is a Prime example of how collusion and illegalities prevent proper civil process by Big Wind liars such as First Wind. Lincoln had its land use ordinance was perverted and misinterpreted by a naive and influenced planning board and council.
The suits will fly there if the project gets its permit. It will be a noise disaster for many abutters, if the current real world science and law are not applied. Vinalhaven, Mars Hill and Freedom wind power disasters must never happen again!
That is the reason home rule must be maintained as demanded by the law of this state.
That is the reason BIG WIND liars and subsidy pig oinkers like First Wind and Angus King and company must face "WE THE PEOPLE".

A good Job iS a Joke

Mr Puiia is again wrong about the Board doing a good job. They have sold out to intimidation by the anti-wind people. In the 2 to 1 poll the people of Rumford voted in favor of Wind power. The 2 majority, unfortunately, still had faith in the town mamager and board to do right by their vote so they don't attend these meetings. Guess what people who gave this board and town manager this benefit of doubt? You got sold down the river again. Are they acting in the best interest of the town? Is this reason enough for recall ?

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