Angst with proposed wind ordinance aired at Rumford board meeting

RUMFORD — Several people attending Thursday night's special selectmen's meeting went home unhappy with the board's decision to expedite its proposed wind energy facility ordinance into June's annual town meeting warrant.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Selectman Jeremy Volkernick, left, recaps the board's process to produce its own proposed wind ordinance, something that he said should have taken more time to develop at Thursday night's special Board of Selectmen meeting. Selectman Jeff Sterling listens.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Resident Peter Buotte asks selectmen how the wind ordinance will hold developers to the ordinance's standards at Thursday night's Rumford Board of Selectmen special meeting. He said selectmen removed that language from the ordinance when they created their current proposal.

Several accused selectmen of not fully understanding changes they made to the document, changes the people said would eventually bring harm to Rumford through improperly regulated wind development.

A few accused the board of taking on what they said should have been the Planning Board's job to draft such an ordinance and not the Board of Selectmen's task.

Resident and businessman Roger Arsenault asked Town Manager Carlo Puiia to explain the Planning Board's task during one of the many off-topic forays in the board's consideration of proposed changes to the wind ordinance.

“Isn't it to enforce all ordinances?” Arsenault asked.

Without saying yes or no, Puiia replied by reading the five powers of the Planning Board, most of which are to deal with the comprehensive plan.

Arsenault then said the original selectmen-appointed Wind Power Advisory Committee, which he was on, had Planning Board members participate in the committee's seven-month-long process to draft an ordinance to regulate wind development.

A majority vote in November defeated that ordinance, which was widely regarded by many as a permanent moratorium on wind development.

The selectmen's proposal, largely based on that ordinance, reduced it to 26 pages and removed or altered many of its restrictions. The new document will seemingly allow wind power development while tasking the Planning Board with regulating it.

Arsenault accused selectmen of not including the Planning Board in its deliberations to craft its own ordinance, which was modeled from the defeated ordinance and several other wind ordinances.

He urged selectmen to “slow down” and bring planners up to speed on the new proposal which they will be asked to enforce.

Former Rumford Town Manager Len Greaney also questioned selectmen's ability to craft an ordinance, labeling the process “irresponsible.”

Selectman Mark Belanger interrupted, asking for a point of order that Greaney was off topic.

Greaney replied that he didn't care if he was off topic, he wanted answers from the board.

None were forthcoming.

Greaney said selectmen are not developers of ordinances. He said the board is responsible for the administration of town business.

He accused the board of “running a very strange process” and suggested they stop and “put the right people” on the task.

Selectmen, however, finished approving previously tabled sections of the ordinance, and then voted 3-1 to accept it. Selectman Jeremy Volkernick was the lone dissenter.

After a 30-minute recess to allow Puiia time to add the night's minimal changes into the document and provide a final draft, the board again voted 3-1 to place the document on the town meeting warrant, with the condition that it be reviewed by town attorney Thomas Carey. That stipulation was prompted by former Rumford Selectman Jim Thibodeau, who also worked on the defeated ordinance and strenuously objected to the selectmen's expedited ordinance proposal.

“I think you're throwing the citizens of Rumford to the wolves,” Thibodeau said.

He was referring to new language requiring developers to provide money to cover the town's cost of enforcing the ordinance and any conditions of approval.

He accused the board of creating loopholes for wind developers and took offense with what he perceived as their attitude.

“This ho-hum attitude isn't really going to cut it,” he said. “This town's going to have repercussions.”

Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley just thanked him for his opinion and continued the meeting.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

nothing to do with Roxbury

who had things to do with the killing of roxbury Pond?

 's picture

fair and protective

since you weren't able to answer any of the questions that were asked the other night at the meeting obvisouly you don't understand the ordiance so how would you know if it was fair and protective or not?

so many questions unanswered.

http://RecordHillWind/reports.com

they are blasting bed rock now...DEP go look.

Educational supper Friday night Dixfield high school
may 20, 2011 3-7 plant sale

 's picture

Take a look

Rumford and Lincoln are a lot alike, although the mountains around Rumford are closer and higher and Lincoln has the lakes. A picture says a thousand words. Check out the photos of the nearly completed Rollins Project in Lincoln. All the turbines are in place, it just isn't wired up and tested yet. Click the links or copy and paste into your search engine, put on slide show and change the speed setting to be slow enough for you to read the captions. Keep in mind that these are the small (389 ft tall) GE 1.5 MW turbines and all recently proposed wind projects in Maine use other, larger turbines that go as tall as 485 feet.

https://picasaweb.google.com/Blueyes1119/RollinsWindProjectMay12011#

https://picasaweb.google.com/Blueyes1119/RollinsWindProjectFromTheAirMay...

 's picture

Beware, Rumford!

First, it is absolutely ludicrous that the natural gas fired plant in Rumford sits virtually idle---it operated less than a month last year---while we push ahead to carpet our beautiful mountains with useless, inefficient, unreliable wind turbines. The highly efficient natural gas generator doesn't impinge on anyone, set on less than 50 acres in an industrial park. Do you really want First Wind to blast the Sh--t out of Black Mt or any other mountains in the area to put up wind turbines that will hover over your town? Wind turbines that are twice as tall as the tallest building in Maine--202 ft tall Franklin Towers in Portland? Wind turbines that the industry lies & deceives & twists the truth about? Every wind project in Maine that is built in close proximity to where people live have harmed people---can you be sure that the Selectmen's watered down ordinance places protection of every---that is, every, not just some or most---Rumford citizen before the interests of First Wind?

Mark Belanger's picture

Alice

I have had nothing to do with Roxbury. The citizens voted down a proposed ordinance that they felt was not fair to the industry. All we did was create another ordinance that still has protections for the Rumford citizens and allows regulated wind development. We did our job and the people of Rumford will have there say..

 's picture

citizens voted what?

word on the street is citizen's did not know what they were voting for.
words in citizens kitchens is they were not told of these things.

either way life is being destroyed....stop it. please

Mark, the money is fleeting...if there is a 'green" movement, Maine should be the place.
A home without fossil fuels.
The old fashioned way.
Jobs in farming, firewood and talents, not fake power...we do not need them.
We need our water.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Rumford, Study what happened in Lincoln

because, it is now happening to YOU!

This is what people should know about the handling of the Rollins Wind project. It should set off alarms with anyone who values the ideal of participatory democracy and has a sense of fairness.

1. It is the first project that was rammed through as a result of the heinous Expedited Wind Permitting statute, which has opened the floodgates for the proliferation of these projects, a giveaway of rural Maine to an industry that wouldn't exist without extensive Taxpayer subsidies and preferential treatment.

2. First Wind was wooing Lincoln elected and appointed public officials for more than 6 years before announcement of their plans. Instead of being responsible public servants and sponsoring an extensive public examination of the issues, they did everything possible to open the door to a company with questionable reputation.

3. The only public forum ever held in Lincoln was a carefully controlled First Wind "Dog & Pony Show" that raised more questions than provided answers to any citizens who asked questions rather than just accept the company's propaganda.

4. After First Wind's intentions became clear in September of 2008, the Lincoln Town Council refused to enact a Moratorium to provide the community with an opportunity to consider the multiplicity of issues raised by a citizens' group and within two months, the First Wind application was deemed "complete" and the countdown under the Expedited Wind Permitting began relentlessly.

5. One single copy of the huge, 3-volume application was available to read at Town Hall, but the Planning Board, so eager to do the bidding of First Wind, set a hearing on the application for the absolute minimum number of days for public notice. The compact disc and on-line versions of the mind-numbing detail in the application was available only 3 days before the public hearing.

6. At the public hearing, the Chairman of the Planning Board refused to recuse himself over conflict of interest, that being, he was the realtor who represented the major landowner as lessor for parcels included in First Wind leases. The citizens were given 2 minutes each to comment on the complex application. The chairman and a stalwart zealot on behalf of First Wind attempted to ram through a vote that very night until one Planning Board member questioned whether Board members had read what they were about to vote on. When they admitted they hadn't, the vote was postponed.

7. When the Planning Board met 2 weeks later, no further public comments were allowed, yet when questions were asked of representatives of First Wind, the company was allowed unrestrained time to advocate for the project. The application was quickly pushed through for approval. A huge, community-altering change to the Lincoln Lakes area approved with about the same consideration as someone proposing to add a tool shed to his or her property!

8. The Town Council approved the Planning Board's decision in a meeting where citizens were given 5 minutes each for comments, doing so even when it was faced with an even larger crowd asking questions critical of the project. First Wind officials were not subject to the Egg Timer and was unfettered in its obvious advocacy for approval.

9. The Lincoln Town Council agreed to have First Wind pay for the town's lawyer at Eaton Peabody to negotiate the TIF agreement with First Wind's lawyer at Eaton Peabody and rubber stamped the resulting give back of 50% of the property taxes to be generated.

10. The Appeals Board in Lincoln strategized with First Wind to attack and discredit the citizens group and voted that the hastily organized group lacked standing to appeal the Planning Board's decision to violate Lincoln's Land Use Ordinance in approving an industrial development in a rural residential zone.

11. The follow through on this horrendous un-civic process at the state level has been as bad. It started with the DEP refusing to hold a formal hearing where sworn testimony and cross-examination can take place. To date, throughout the state, this has been the case because the Expedited Wind Permitting statute does not allow it. DEP only has a local "meeting" to allow citizens to raise questions and make comments, most of which are answered with wind industry propaganda or no answer at all.

12. The DEP staff and the Board of Environmental Protection (and LURC in non-DEP jurisdictions) have clearly been marching to the orders of Baldacci, who has made proliferation of the wind industry his legacy. It is abundantly clear that state workers fear speaking out of line and the BEP members, all Baldacci appointees, are following through to allow the environment of rural Maine to be devastated by at least 45 projects the size of the Rollins project in Lincoln Lakes.

13. The courts have turned their backs on the serious issues raised by citizen groups. The State Supreme Judicial Court, even after several members pointedly examined the issues, voted to say the Expedited Wind Permitting statute is the will of the Legislature (which voted it through as a last minute, non-publicized, bill in the short session of the Legislature in April 2008) and they would not rule against it.

So here we are, with an undeserving company that steamrolled over local officials, handed the undue opportunity to ruin a beautiful corner of Maine. Sadly, Lincoln has failed and it will never be the same. When the First Wind project is finished and the impact gets realized, in Lincoln there will be a lot of regrets expressed.

Gary Steinberg's picture

Stop Them From Eating Your Town!

First Wind's 'proper channels" are bribery, collusion,deception, payoffs, handouts, and connections to the power elite of Maine to make this travesty happen. Ask Angus King as well how it is done.

Stop Them From Eating Your Town!

“ Unless you become more watchful in your states and check the spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that...the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations.”

- Andrew Jackson-

We all need to take more actions to combat this corporate scam in Maine.

Rumford, Ordinance up, or die to the wind!

 's picture

Working for Wind?

Stories coming from Rumford and other towns across the state are disturbing. They show select boards with serious conflicts. Do they work for the people in their towns (who hired them and can fire them)... or do they work for wind developers?

If wind facilities were given tax-exempt status, would ANY town want them? If they were not allowed to bribe citizens with their mandated 'tangible benefits', would citizens be entering into these debates?

Please don't let the wind industry divide your town. That's what they want. Their ability to have their way depends on the weakness of the communities they target. As long as ONE resident of your town is worried about their health and well-being, the selectmen should put those concerns before those of First Wind, or Patriot Renewables, or any other developer who is in this for money, and money only. Please remember that-- they aren't in this for any reason except to get rich from tax-payer subsidies, grants, and other incentives.

Hold your selectmen to their oaths. Remind them of their oaths... read them back to them. Did they promise to look out for the well-being of the citizens of Rumford? If they did, hold them to their oath, or remove them. It's that simple. They work for YOU, the citizens of Rumford, and not the wind industry.

 's picture

Mr. Belanger, Step Up And Have Your Say

May 20th, a free supper at Dirigo High School, 3 to 7 pm. This will the second supper held to debate proposed River Valley Wind Projects. Pro and Con. I asked a Rumford Selectman candidate to attend the first supper, but he never showed after saying he would. I send to Mr. Belanger, the same invitation for the upcoming supper, please tell us about the wonderful world of wind projects as you see it.

 's picture

“put the right people” on the

“put the right people” on the task. who is more right then the elected people, i believe mr.greaney
and his buddies are still sour because the voting people of rumford shot down the anti wind ordinance,i will be voting for it.

Mark Belanger's picture

Ordinance

Fred, the ordinance should be available now at the Town Office. For anyone that wants to know, this ordinance is very fair. It has protections for the citizens of Rumford and allows regulated wind development. There is alot of misinformation out there. Please do not fall prey to all the scare tactics that will be used by the antiwind crowd.
Vote yes on 2..

 's picture

ordinance is very fair

Mark,
You must be for Industry for money only.
If this electricty is needed why are the companies putting half the turbines on Noise Reduction Operation from 7 pm -7am every night? Wind Industry just wants the turbines up. They do not have to be running to get the second round of stimulis grants from your grand children. Renewable Energy Credits are sold.
Mark,
They are destroying Roxbury Lake basin as I write. Are you happy that water tables are altered, never to return? Once Maine blasting and drilling crack the water table on top of the ridge, the ridge dies. Herbicides make sure any rooted vegetation does not come back.
Tell your grandchildren why that dead bed rock ridge line is there.
You know that the decommisioning starts at ten years because after that the turbines are obsolete.
I hope the landowners are ready to maintain that high road because the industry has left.
If stormwater events happen (yearly) the road erodes more and more. Down goes all that sediment to Ellis Pond. Brooks clogged, habitats altered.
Are you ready to explain this to your grandchildren?
If so, I would love to read your reasonings.
Alice Barnett Carthage Maine

 's picture

Ordinance

Does anyone know if this proposed ordinance will be available in print or on line so we can review it?

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