DIXFIELD — Circulators of a petition that has forced a vote in November that would essentially prohibit wind turbine development on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge and Sugarloaf Mountain met with resistance at a public hearing Monday night.
Few people attended the hearing, which was required by the petition circulated by Dan McKay and Fremont Tibbetts. Those who did took issue with the restraints they said would go into effect if a majority of residents pass the question Nov. 2.
“I don't think the town should tell the property owners what they can do. They own the land,” Charlotte Collins said.
“The petition is on shaky ground. I'm not for or against wind power. The (proposed) wind ordinance was put together well,” said Richard Pickett, who spoke as a resident and not as police chief.
The question asks whether residents favor zoning the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge and Sugarloaf Mountain starting at 1,000 feet elevation so no commercial or industrial development, except for logging and communication towers, can take place.
Selectman Norine Clarke, who served on the wind ordinance committee, said such restrictions also prohibit any other type of development.
"This bans everything. What about other uses?” she asked. She said prohibitions could include a campground, farm or other commercial use.
Planning Board Chairman David Harvey said he didn't believe zoning for just one item could be done.
“I'm not in favor of this initiative, but of an ordinance to control wind development,” he said.
“Voters do have a right to vote, McKay said. (Two hundred seventy-seven people wanted to decide on wind turbines and not leave it up to the Planning Board,” he said.
Residents will have a chance to decide whether to adopt a wind ordinance as well as make amendments to the Comprehensive Plan that would be aligned to such an ordinance when they vote in November.
Tibbetts said voters will make a decision on allowing wind turbines, “just not these few people here.”
Prompting the petition and now ballot question is the plan by Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy Mass. to construct up to 13 industrial turbines on the ridge that includes Colonel Holman Mountain on leased land. The property is privately owned.
Patriot also has several other proposed wind farms in various stages of development in Canton, Woodstock and Carthage.
Dixfield voters will decide whether to adopt a wind ordinance that spells out where such development can take place, what the setbacks would be, and other pertinent information on Nov. 2. The wind ordinance committee has been working on it for almost a year while a moratorium on wind turbine development was in effect.