Sumner wind committee hung up on legalese

SUMNER — A committee charged with creating a wind-power ordinance agreed Thursday night to have member Jeff Pfeifer rewrite the document to address their concerns.

Industrial Wind Ordinance Committee member Larry O’Rourke said too much time was being spent on the 12-page document, which is too long and filled with legal phrases that make it difficult to understand.

“I wrote it this long because this wind subject has already gotten ugly," Pfeifer said. "We could be open to a lot of attacks. I tried to make it as comprehensible as possible.”

It would protect the committee and the town, he said. “If the document is strong it can be a deterrent.”

Committee member Lana Pratt brought a laugh when she said, “I’m an old lady and if I can understand it, the rest of you should be able to. I want the protection.”

Pfeifer suggested that each committee member email their questions and concerns to him, and he would rewrite the ordinance to address them.

Clear Sky Energy LLC of Barnstable, Mass., is proposing to build wind turbines on the Spruce Hills Ridge that includes Mount Tom in the southwestern part of town.

Committee member Kathleen Emery suggested that mailings to residents about the ordinance and upcoming vote include a tag that reads: “A YES vote to the ordinance says NO to unregulated industrial wind development.”

Selectman Mary Ann Haxton asked how much time it would take to prepare the ordinance for the vote. The committee agreed five weeks would be enough.

Michael Rogers of Maine Revenue Services will meet with the committee at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss tax implications for local taxpayers.

The wind power issue has proven to be controversial, with former Selectman Glenn Hinckley resigning and Selectman Mark Silber no longer attending committee meetings due to personal attacks, Silber said earlier this month.

“I have been accused of accepting money, of being in cahoots with wind power contractors, and I won’t be a part of any wind hearings or committees anymore,” he said at the Aug. 4 selectmen meeting when it was announced Hinckley had resigned due to the stress of the job.

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Ron  Huber's picture

Sumner's Gordian Knot

Sumner need not wrestle with the complicated tangle of wind-relevant regulations, statutes, standards, precedents being proposed.

Don't get lured into a legal thicket echoing with the deafening roar of consultants, citizens groups, regulators and hangers-on of every sort.

Follow instead the example of Camden and some of its neighboring towns and simply bar commercial development above the 500 feet elevation contour

In Camden's case their conclusion was that the untrammelled scenic mountain assets are of such great value to the entire town economy and culture, that prohibiting development above 500 feet retains the value to the community of its unindustrialized ridgelines that make Camden's "from the mountains to the sea" motto so meaningful.

So Sumnerites, simply give the heave-ho to the consultants and the regulatory free-for-all they would profit by. Go set your elevation limit for commercial development in your ordinance to whatever elevation makes sense to you.

There! You're done.

Dan McKay's picture

The committee has accepted

The committee has accepted the obligation to write a clear, understandable document that the citizens can feel assured will provide them with the comfort of knowing currently known impacts from wind turbines will be addressed by developer and town officials, well before they have to face the troubles of going through the expense and headaches of proving later that turbine noise, shadow flicker and property value expectations have compromised their rights.
The committee further has accepted the obligation to allow the citizens a chose on allowing/disallowing industrial wind development by writing a document to which all developers will say is impossible to comply with, thus the citizen has the say to "yes" or "no" . That's how democracy works.
Long live these wonderful small communities of the Western Maine Mountain Region and their courage to stand up against the overreaching, imposing power of the State when the State makes the mistake of not looking into unforeseen circumstances before providing laws on everyone.


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