Third proposed Rumford wind ordinance already creating confusion

RUMFORD — Despite spending more than two years to create a wind power ordinance that residents will adopt, many are still confused about what it means.

To help Rumford residents better understand the third proposed wind ordinance on which they will vote at the polls on Nov. 8, the town placed a chart on its website. The chart compares key points between the first and second proposals that were defeated, and the third proposal.

Like the first proposal, the third one:

* Restricts nighttime sounds from turbines to 40 decibels and daytime sounds to 50 decibels. Forty decibels is the equivalent of a soft whisper at 5 feet away, while 50 decibels is equivalent to normal spoken voice.

* Gives the Planning Board 90 days to review a project.

* Requires inspections, an operational license, enforcement of a violation agreement provision, and pre-blast surveys.

Where it differs, the third proposal:

* Requires a 4,000 foot setback from non-participating property owners instead of 5,280 feet.

* Restricts blade flicker to no more than 12 hours a year instead of 10 hours annually.

* Carries no blade glint standard, but the developer must submit a sample of non-reflective paint to be used on the blades.

* Requires no sound study procedures and no mitigation waiver financial disclosure.

* Ensures Planning Board approval of the application following a public hearing in 90 instead of 120 days.

* Limits wind turbine height to 450 feet instead of 400 feet.

* Requires 50 percent decommissioning up front and 12.5 percent annually for two to five years instead of 100 percent up front.

* Allows 12 months for the project phasing plan instead of six months.

* Includes a community benefits provision.

The bullet point comparisons can be found on the town website at www.rumfordmaine.net.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said Tuesday that those who contacted him believe that by voting yes on it at the polls on Nov. 8 it means they are voting to allow wind towers.

“Some people are of the mindset that a 'No' vote means a vote against wind towers and a 'Yes' vote is a vote to allow wind towers,” he said.

Instead, he said a Yes vote to approve the ordinance will allow local regulation on wind towers.

“A 'No' vote is a vote to allow state regulation on wind towers,” Puiia said of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection wind project laws.

“This is not a vote for or against wind power, but a vote on how we govern a wind energy facility if one were to be built in our town.”

Clarifying a No vote, he said it has yet to be determined what will happen if the third proposed ordinance is defeated.

“If it is defeated, the majority of the board would have to decide what the next step would be, if any,” Puiia said.

“Ultimately, if they were to decide to let the moratorium expire and not resume or delegate another ordinance drafted, we would be governed by state DEP regulations.”

The first proposed wind ordinance, which many believed to be too restrictive, was defeated in November 2010. The second one, thought to be too liberal, was defeated in June.

“It's still very much a divided issue where there are those who feel the state's current standards are not protective enough on the issues that arise from generating wind,” Puiia said.

“Some citizens may support the proposed ordinance, because they feel the state standards are not sufficient to protect the citizens from issues associated with wind power generation and believe the proposed ordinance’s standards will.”

The third ordinance pendulums back toward the first proposal in that Puiia said he doesn't believe it will allow any wind projects using current technology.

“Other citizens may not support the proposed ordinance, because they have a different opinion of the issues associated with wind power generation and believe that the proposed ordinance’s standards will jeopardize a project from happening,” he said.

Puiia said the board made compromises compared to November 2010 and June 2011 versus the third proposal. To view these, see the comparison chart on the town website at www.rumfordmaine.net.

“Certainly, it is a more protective ordinance just based on the sound standard and that seems to be the biggest issue of them all,” he said.

“I have not talked with any officials from First Wind, but it is my understanding that these standards would be too restrictive for a project that they were proposing.”

He said some citizens are concerned that the third proposal discourages the wind industry from considering Rumford as a site.

“That's been the debate all along: Can we present an ordinance that would both protect the citizens and enable a project?” he asked.

“My only thought is there'd have to be changes in the technology of the turbines to meet these standards.”

He said he hoped that prior to Nov. 8 residents would discuss the issues with their neighbors, selectmen and even himself or do their own research.

The third proposal is also available for review on the town website.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Kevin Saisi's picture

At this point...

It seems that the squeaky wheel has been greased; the anti-wind lobby has won. However, for the good of the town we need to move on. I say we should pass this ordinance, wait for a new board to be seated in June, and consider making small amendments, if needed, to adapt the ordinance. I don't know how you feel, but my viewpoint is that they have wasted way too much time on this. How much better would our town be if the board had spent as much time and energy on economic development???? The board has given in to the powerful lobbying group, as we all knew they would. Let's just hope that it doesn't end up costing us big money in court.

As Usual Kevin

You like others just want to throw in the towel because you have had enough. Once again this attitude is defeatist one. The people must vote "NO" in order to send a message to this Board that their heads are in the sand. Yes we have to move on but not by giving in to the anti-wind lobby. All this board had to do was to use the states version and it would have been what the town needed. To many members of the present board are influenced by the anti-wind people. Why don't you inform people that Black MTn. would have never had to come to the town for money anymore with wind. Why don't you tell people that a few of these anti-wind people are making money during the upgrade of the power line for use of their land as lay down areas for equipment. I've even heard of one board member getting a road built on her property. What's this all about? This sought of stuff is going on behind the towns back. So these people benefit and the town loses. So vote yes Kevin and assist this group get their way and the town conyinues to get nothing.

Alice Barnett's picture

powerful lobbying group

The board listened to up to date facts about this non-economic development. People realize WIND is a scam and in 5 years Roxbury Village will have no economic base other than more turbines. People on the lakes (Derapse on Garland, etc.)will demand tax rebates soon. If turbines are not in your back yard, that is a selling point in the future. Lucky people in protected zones.

Penny Gray's picture

Two nights ago I saw the

Two nights ago I saw the northern lights. I watched them for a long time in a sky so full of stars and darkness it was like looking back in time a thousand years, a million years. We take so many things for granted here in Maine. We are so blessed with our natural environment. With these dark night skies. With these mountains that we love. Let's not forsake our quality of place for the promise of a few quick bucks.

Dan McKay's picture

Look around, if you can see a

Look around, if you can see a hill or ridge line, then a windmill could be in your backyard, sending it's thumping, throbbing noise down upon you. It's time to simply administer some rules to get them to quiet them down. With all the amazing technology at their disposal, it shouldn't be hard to do. Engineers, put your pencils to work and solve this problem and Rumford hills await you. Until then, please don't tell anyone, potentially exposed to the irritating and constant noise, that it is all in their imagination.

WORKING

Dan why don't you inform the people who you are working for right now. Hypocracy at its best.

Penny Gray's picture

When and if these forty story

When and if these forty story tall towers go up, there will be no recourse for residents who might be negatively impacted. The wind developers won't take them down. Vote yes on the local ordinance. Protect yourselves and your neighbors. State regulations for industrial wind towers are a joke. They allow them to be placed as near as 1200 feet from inland residents, yet off shore wind developers are promising a 20 mile set back for the coastal residents. That smacks of discrimination.

Alice Barnett's picture

property values

are the landowners that sigend leases with First Wind cutting their property? Is their land changing status at the town valuation list?
Is Roxbury receiving adjusted taxes as soon as Angus King improved the property?

If people think a TIF is boosting economy then they better be prepared for when WIND claims bankruptcy.

TIF is tax dollars borrowed, based on the premise the land borrowed against will be worth more in so many years.

Monday November 7 at 5 pm there is a TIF and State Revenue meeting at the Dixfield Library. A representative at the state level from each area will be there.

Mark, Here is a chance to ask questions about the future of turbine monies,

Alice Barnett's picture

Rumford Take Control

Take control,, YES vote on ordinance means you are in control.
It may be that the huge turbines they want to put all over your mountains will need re-designing.

SO re design.

Noise is a problem and who ever said 40 dcb is a whisper is not a scientist. We need quantifying and qualifying.

Rural areas are generally 20 dcb. If you look at Saddleback Ridge sound modeling you see that at 2 miles from turbine center a 35 dcb noise is expected.

Neighbors used to 20 dcb at night will be bothered. I do not know if the wild life will care.

http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/docstand/sitelaw/Selected%20developments/2...

Mark Belanger's picture

Carlo is right. This

Carlo is right. This ordinance if voted in will not allow one single wind turbine in Rumford. This is an antiwind ordinace and sends a strong signal to any other industry that might think of coming to this area, unless of course you want to sell italians and pizza. Rumford has always been a strong supporter of land owner rights. This ordinance infringes on those rights and should be strongly voted down.
This is yet another instance where a small group of people have controled the narative and will hold this town back yet again.

It's Hard Fighting

Negative people Mark. This board will run this town into the ground. They are in capable of making good decisions for Rumford. They are influenced by oil barron that see the potential in lost revenues while get monies for leasing their properties as laydown yards for the upgrades of power lines to carry power generated for the grid. We have tried to expose this type of behavior but deaf ears can't hear. This board could have adopted the states and made people aware that any change the state makes the wind companies would have to abide by. They should have sat down with the wind company and been working on deals for the town instaed of trying to write antiwind ordinances. Why aren't the land owners who were to benefit standing up for themselves. Why aren't those land owners who said they would shut their lands down by posting them stepping up? Once again big talk no action. Land owners who had agreements made with First Wind your rights are now being infringed upon. Fight back. I encorage the people of Rumford to vote NO. Don't listen to the Fred Stones and Roger Arsenaults and Buottes and Thibodeaus and other anti wind supporters. They are destroying Rumford.

Fred Stone's picture

No Brainer

I myself am totally against wind towers, but I will be voting YES on this ballot question, because by now we all should know if the State has control on wind towers we will not have any local control.

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