TEMPLE — Voters will decide on a wind energy moratorium at their March 7 town meeting. The moratorium would give the town time to prepare an ordinance to cover any potential development of wind farm projects.
A committee of about a dozen residents formed Monday to discuss how to handle potential future projects in a way that best protects the town. During a special town meeting in December, residents approved the formation of the committee to develop a wind power ordinance, said Robert Kimber, who chaired the meeting.
There is no specific plan but some interest has been shown in what could be development of a wind power project, he said. Town maps have been purchased by a Chicago-area firm with interest in the ridge from Varnum Mountain north, including Derby, Dean, Center Hill in Temple, and Wilder, an area that runs close to Mt. Blue, Kimber said.
“We may be putting the cart before the horse, but there may be interest," he said. "We don’t have the power to stop wind projects, but we do have the power to guide it.”
“The ordinance would be set up to protect people from the impacts of the project,” First Selectman Kathleen Lynch said.
Kimber outlined some of those impacts, including noise, views, vibration, the flicker effect or when sun shining through the blades creates a spinning shadow that can make you dizzy, he said.
Jo Josephson urged the committee to look also at the good side of wind projects, including a change in the tax base and green energy.
“What if three-quarters of the town wants wind energy? Part of our job is getting a sense of what people think,” Selectman George Blodgett said.
The town needs a framework and some control, even if it supports the project, William Hodgkins said. The project would be visible and would have an impact on the community, he said.
The committee discussed creating a flier with "frequently asked" questions and answers similar to one done by the town of Montville, Maine, which was researched and shared by Josephson.
The committee also agreed to put a moratorium article on the warrant for the March town meeting.
A moratorium is a holding action, a time when nothing can be done on the property while the town decides “these are the conditions under which they can operate,” Josephson said. The moratorium, usually a six-month period, can be extended by an additional six months.
“The moratorium is not a ban on development. It’s a step to figure out the best interests of the town,” Josephson said.
One resident said committee members should take the time to talk with the property owners, most of whom are not Temple residents but who have allowed all types of recreational activity, including hunting and fishing, on their land.
The committee agreed to invite the nearly half-dozen potentially affected landowners to their next meeting when they will review the moratorium article for the town meeting warrant and a draft of an informational flier to help townspeople learn about the moratorium and the wind projects.
The next meeting is planned for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at the Town Office. It will be open to the public.