Selectmen to develop wind ordinance

RUMFORD — Selectmen on Thursday scheduled a workshop on a wind turbine ordinance, which will go to voters in June. The workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 24.

Board members discussed whether to have an ordinance similar to one developed by a special wind ordinance committee last year, or to follow Maine State Planning Office regulations on such development.

Selectman Jeremy Volkernick wanted to present two or three options to voters, but no authority for such a method of voting was allowed in the town's charter.

“Taxpayers ought to have a choice,” he said. “Choices do matter.”

Selectman Mark Belanger said a majority of voters made their wishes known when they voted down a proposed ordinance last November.

“We can't please everyone. We gave the Rumford model a go, now give the State Planning Office model a go,” he said. “Tweak it, but not to the point of it not being standardized.”

“All I want is a fair ordinance. We need to treat this company fairly, like the mill or the gas plant,” he said.

First Wind LLC of Boston has proposed constructing up to 12 industrial wind turbines on Black Mountain and adjacent North and South Twin mountains. A representative of the firm had said that the proposed Rumford ordinance would virtually eliminate wind turbine development.

An ordinance should be in place within the next few months because a moratorium on wind development expires in May. Then, if there is no local ordinance, developers would rely on regulations outlined by the State Planning Office.

Selectman Greg Buccina said the Rumford-drafted ordinance was second to none.

“Not many towns are using the state's model. They're using their own to protect citizens of their town,” he said. “We get nothing out of this (wind development). If something in the (Rumford) ordinance is unpalatable, then change it. I'm not going to accept the DEP (State Planning Office) model.”

Resident Kevin Saisi said the board was responsible for putting forward an ordinance that was best for the community.

“We elected them. What they put forth should be the best for the town,” he said.

Resident Candice Casey said people want wind power and economic development.

Jim Thibodeau, a former selectman and member of the Wind Ordinance Committee, disagreed that the board could do justice to the creation of a wind ordinance by June.

“There are issues of noise, towers still standing and not being taken down. We on that committee went to people with facts and information. Work with the ordinance you've got and see what happens,” he said.

The vote, however, was to use the State Planning Office model, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Dan McKay's picture

THE SECRETS OF WIND

Before the DEP meeting of March 10th, a free supper will be served (4 TO 6PM) along with an important disclosure to the " SECRET WORLD OF THE WIND EXPERIMENT, WHAT IT WILL DO FOR YOU AND WHAT IT WILL DO FOR THE NATION "

Alice Barnett's picture

too much too learn

If you read Saddleback Wind application comments you see under visual studies that agencies need clarification of visual impacts from the attorney general. You read in the comments that noise studies need standardizing.
Okay Rumford area; bring up road flicker, red, strobing lights, debris scatter, decommissioning.
Noise will be a whole session.
Too much to learn. I never thought of erosion control and whose responsibility it is.
Wild life is studied wrong but as a layman, I haven't the qualifications to prove it.
DEP is holding a public meeting at Dixfield High School, Thursday March 10 6-8 pm.
A lot will be learned at this meeting.

Rumford Selectboard

Once again have proven that they can't do right by the people who put them in office. This boarrd could vote in the DEP version with it's own built in protections. Mr Belanger , thank you for being the lone listener of the people. Once again the bookends at either end of the board do the town of Rumford continued injustice .

Dan McKay's picture

Real Work Comes First, The Experiment Can Be Measured With Time

Higher government subsidy sets up an experimental concept, reducing much pressure on the subsidized industry to competition from current proven technology. The pressure on towns to react quickly to establish rules is directly related to present federal government advantages given the industry. The real pressure on the wind industry is not of free market competition, but from obtaining government favors before the government changes their minds on extending these favors. The ridgelines are going nowhere. Landowners of property so coveted by this industry maintain the rights to current land use and the right to sell as townspeople wait for the higher ups in government to decide whether this wind experiment should require continued public funding beyond the experimental stage. Extending the time for citizens to decide how to address the wind concept may seem to be bucking higher government actions, but the impact is real and local and with the pains of economic reality being felt all over and with time the only way to measure this experiment, the pressure falls on everyone, occurring at the very time we are all at hopes for new formed money to balance budgets and calm our fears.
Rumford selectmen are under pressure to come up with the perfect regulations to protect the citizen’s physical and economic health. An overwhelming task as much is still developing as this industrial experiment proceeds. With much work to do on next year’s budget, priority of time is essential. This will be the most thought out budget preparation in Rumford’s history and getting the budget right far exceeds the conceived need to get the regulations of industrial wind in place. Setting the wind ordinance work on the back burner for now will not make or break the town. No one works well under pressure.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Multiple Choice Option Improper

It is always interesting when a fill-in reporter covers a story. The above piece is the perfect example of this. Ms. Adams did a fine job of covering the meeting, but she missed the fact that the board has been working on this ordinance since the last proposal was shot down.

Last night it was proposed that there be as many as five ordinances listed from which the people could choose. Presenting that many choices would not only be confusing and improper form for a ballot, but it would split the vote to allow a special interest group to push through the proposal they want, most likely the one that the voters turned down this past fall.

Somebody suggested that the voters should have a choice, but it was pointed out by myself and Ms. Casey that the board is responsible to review the options and present what they recommend is best for the town. Not doing so is neglecting their duty to the town. Passing an overly restrictive ordinance opens the town to the likelihood of defending it in court at a high legal cost. it also would give the message that our community is anti-business.

It is a delicate process balancing between protecting the town from any adverse affects of any industry, and protecting the town from prosperity.

Lisa Lindsay's picture

Just curious

there have been quite a few so-called "restrictive" ordinances passed in various towns around Maine. Have any of them been challeged legally and had to be defended in court?

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