Wind ordinance creates turbulence in Rumford

RUMFORD — By a 3-2 split on most items, selectmen OK'd much of Selectman Jeff Sterling's proposed wind ordinance at Wednesday night's special board meeting.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

First Wind projects manager Neil Kiely seeks clarification on a standard in the Rumford Board of Selectmen's proposed wind ordinance Wednesday night.

It was not without hearing a lot of grief from many in the audience who said Sterling's measure doesn't protect the town enough. They favored the more restrictive ordinance that was defeated by a majority in November.

Resident and businessman Roger Arsenault accused the board of not knowing what they were doing in seemingly approving sections blindly and hurriedly.

“I've got the fear of God about what's going to happen,” he said of what he expects about litigation ensuing should voters approve the ordinance next month.

“Your minds are already made up and I don't think that's right.”

Peter Buotte, who with Arsenault drafted the defeated ordinance, accused the board of “quadrupling the noise that's going to be in this community,” by increasing the allowed decibel limit.

On the sound safety setback Sterling changed his proposed 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet and left it from a dwelling and not property line as several, including Selectmen Jeremy Volkernick and Greg Buccina, wanted. It was approved 3-2 with Volkernick and Buccina dissenting.

Resident and businessman Jim Thibodeau, who also helped draft the defeated ordinance, accused some board members of not caring about the safety of Rumford's residents.

Several in the crowd also accused the majority of pandering to a wind developer spokesman, Neil Kiely, of Boston-based First Wind.

Kiely on the other hand, described several of their comments as “fear mongering.”

He also objected at various points in the discussion to what he called unfair regulations, saying parts of the ordinance single out the wind industry and do not require the same standards of other industries in town such as the gas plant or paper mill.

Additionally, the selectmen voting in the minority most of the night — Volkernick and Buccina — left without saying a word while the meeting was still progressing, Buccina first and then Volkernick at about 9:30 p.m.

It wasn't clear if they simply left in disgust or whether they had to work.

Both favored a more restrictive ordinance that they said would offer more protection to residents and prevent the town from becoming embroiled in future litigation.

When Buccina left, most of those who railed against Sterling, Selectmen Mark Belanger and Chairman Brad Adley, got up en masse and noisily left, too.

Later, Volkernick loudly objected to one section. He demanded that they write a moratorium into the ordinance that would restrict the first developer to 10 or 12 turbines for five years.

He said he sought that to determine if the ordinance was working on behalf of the town or needed tweaking.

Volkernick said he wanted this as a small concession for what the majority got earlier, but his motion died for lack of a second.

The board then cruised through several other sections with the same tally, stumbling over the Stray Voltage Assessment and Requirements.

After a few people argued that wind farms generate and don't generate stray voltage, and after Kiely argued that there isn't any science to prove this, Buccina and Volkernick got Sterling to agree with them to leave it in.

Volkernick had one victory when he convinced the board to table the section on fire prevention and emergency response plan and requirements. He wants fire Chief Bob Chase to review the language to better protect the town.

When Buccina left after the 3-2 vote approving the Decommissioning section, tallies on other sections were 4-0 or 3-1 with Volkernick the lone dissenter until he, too, left.

The board was still deliberating the proposal by 9:45 p.m.

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Alan Woods's picture

First Wind complaining about being singled out !?!?!

"(First Wind Projects Manager Neil Kiely) objected at various points in the discussion to what he called unfair regulations, saying parts of the ordinance single out the wind industry and do not require the same standards of other industries in town such as the gas plant or paper mill."

For once, I agree with Mr. Keily. I think it's high time we stop singling out the Windustry:

Let's stop singling them out for Federal subsidies.
Let's stop singling them out for State subsidies.
Let's stop singling them out for super-accelerated depreciation.
Let's stop singling them out for expedited permitting.
Let's stop sinlging them out for massive tax credits.
Let's stop singling them out for noise variances.
Let's stop allowing them to abuse TIFs.
Let's stop singling them out for Energy Credits.
Let's stop singling them out by forgiving their permit violations.

Wake up, Maine!

 's picture

Protecting the town

The townspeople and their representatives would do well to remember that First Wind is not there to help them or make them rich. They want to develop their hills in order to make money-- gobs of it, subsidized by tax-payers--and their concerns are not about residents' health, property values, or anything else.

And speaking of property values--Rumford will be placing an encumbrance on tax payers by making wind turbiner setbacks from residences rather than property boundaries. They are specifically 'taking' value from real estate by restricting what property owners can do with any land that falls within that setback range. What if a property owner wants to break off a lot to sell? Or give to one of their children to build on? If that portion of the property is too close to a turbine, the town has reduced its value-- possible by 100%.

Please think about all the ramifications of taking advice from a developer. They are not in this to be good neighbors, and to design an ordinance to suit them is dangerous and naive.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Scoundrels and Modern Day Snake-Oil Salesmen

Always remember this; they are All Despicable Snake Oil Salesmen.

They(First Wind) have probably bought off several selectmen in all probability, and had secret session illegal meetings, the modus operandi of First Wind in Maine.

They are neither virtuous nor wise. The developers like King and First Wind are mostly cynical profiteers out to make a buck, who pull the necessary strings and grease the necessary palms to win their approvals.They are opportunists who travel to financially distressed rural areas of Maine and entice unsuspecting residents and rural folks to sign their lease agreements which neuter their rights to their own land.Most of the others are ill-informed and idealistic-and maybe a bit impulsive-who have no idea what they are in for once the blades of the industrial energy generator begin to spin. They reassure energy committees and town fathers that everything will be fine. They bribe with other half baked schemes. Talk is cheap!

They are no more than despicable snake oil scoundrels and salesmen, using political influence and your tax dollar to make millions off the backs of Mainers to scam taxes and desecrate environment.

Believe nothing they say , and kick them out, or you will be ruined, like Lincoln was.

 's picture

before the blades spin....

before the blades spin.... filling, blasting of a mountain top dries up the water for ever.. no water, no life.
Rumford, you feel like you do not have a say in your future, They tell you money is the answer. Rumford, you will have 3-400 turbines in your valley. Roxbury lake will die. Water on the mountain tops gone. Blade turbines are not the answer. Please wait another year. If Wind is the answer, the industry will still be knocking aT YOUR DOOR.
Let the sidewalks crumble for a year.
I live in the river valley and smelled the mill for years. The mountain tops are not mine but they affect me and my children.

 's picture

Harmful stray voltage

Developer, Horizon, speaks about harmful stray voltage in their narrative about the proposed New Grange Wind Farm in the Towns of Arkwright and Pomfret in Chautauqua County, New York
page 22:
"If the soil is too rocky for the grounding rods, a hole is drilled, the rod is placed in the hole and it is filled with a designated bentonite mix to ensure a surrounding ground contact. Resistance of the grounding system is measured prior to commissioning and must not exceed 10 Ohms to provide a firm grounding path to divert harmful stray surge voltages away from the WTG."

 's picture

water gone

water gone.....

they ae building the substation now, photos and all.

I cannot wait for the cracking of the higher elevations and vernal pools and water table gone.

water gone.....

the insert is from the weekly reports of Record Hill Wind LLC

" Blasting activity has created some cracks in the ledge, which have allowed some groundwater seeps access to daylight. This water is being directed by ditch to the temporary pond. "

 's picture

I would have to say the

I would have to say the FINANCIAL reason for wanting a stricter and more protective ordinance would be primarily the effect these industrial turbines are going to have on property value. If a resident wants to sell their home or a part of their property, they are going to be taking a substantial loss in value. Of course this doesn't matter if the land/homeowner is well to do.

The humane reason for wanting a stricter ordinance would be to protect the health and quality of life of the residents of Rumford. Weren't they here first? Don't they have rights?

Just my opinion, as a Carthage resident who has suffered from the same lack of humanity and common sense displayed by our own selectmen.

Money does strange things to people's ethics, integrity and morals. One quickly learns who the honest people are.

 's picture

lack of education

they do not know they are doing a dis service. they are uneducated.
Educational Supper Friday May 20, 2011 3-7 pm Dixfield High School.
Utility sized wind generators or alternatives?

 's picture

It seems unbelievable that

It seems unbelievable that when the stakes are so high, and the information is out there, these selectmen have not bothered to educate themselves. Let's hope they attend the supper on May 20th. Thank you.

 's picture

An explanation is due

Before the ink is even dry on this document, it leaves the committee undecided about it's validity as being protective to the community's health and welfare.
How this uncertainty will be seen by the public awaits.
There must be reasons the board was so uncomfortable in writing this document. The public is entitled to explanation for this, with each board member detailing his motives to why he voted as he did.
It' time for accountability.


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