Rumford wind ordinance OK'd; Charter amendment fails

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Supporters of Rumford's third proposed ordinance to regulate wind energy facilities strategically parked vehicles with signs like this on streets drivers or walkers had to take to reach Tuesday's polls at the American Legion on upper Congress Street. In June, their signs said to reject the second proposed ordinance, claiming it wasn't finished yet.

RUMFORD — Third time's a charm proved true Tuesday when a majority of voters overwhelmingly approved the third proposed wind ordinance in two years.

The tally was 1,137 "yes" to 465 "no," Town Manager Carlo Puiia said. Fifty ballots were blank, meaning those voters didn't select either answer.

The vote essentially kills any wind farms coming to Rumford until technology improves or the ordinance gets amended, he said.

“I guess it remains to be seen how this ordinance will affect our community, because we know now that First Wind has contacted me and said they were pulling out,” Puiia said.

When it first proposed building wind turbines atop Rumford hills two years ago, the Boston-based wind developer prompted moratoriums against such development to give the town time to draft an ordinance to regulate wind.

"So, I guess like I said, as far as development here for wind, it's not in the foreseeable future," Puiia said.

"That doesn't mean they can't possibly come here if the technology were to change and they could be able to meet the standards or, if in the future, the standards were to be changed. In other words, the ordinance can be amended."

However, he said he doesn't think the board will do so soon.

"I think they'll accept the vote as it is," Puiia said.

Rumford's 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.

This third ordinance swung back toward the first proposal in that Puiia said last month that he didn't believe it would allow any wind projects using current technology.

But unlike the first two, selectmen included a straw poll with the third proposal to learn the rationale behind Tuesday's balloting.

“What's ironic is that the one that got the most votes was, 'I support having wind power in Rumford,'” Puiia said.

That statement on the straw poll got 557 votes, whereas 479 opted for, "I do not support having wind power in Rumford," he said.

He said 140 said the ordinance was sufficient, 65 said it was too restrictive, 41 said it was not restrictive enough, and 94 voted none of the above.

Puiia said there were also 80 to 100 straw poll tallies of people voting for one of the choices twice, which means those must be sorted out to discern intent.

Tuesday's ballot vote, however, wasn't for or against wind power. It was a vote on how Rumford governs a wind energy facility if one were to be built in town.

A "yes" vote to approve the ordinance allowed local regulation on wind towers. A "no" vote would have allowed state regulation on wind towers.

The other straw poll question asked voters if they wanted selectmen to establish a charter commission. That was approved 836 "yes" to 581 "no."

As for the second issue on the ballot, voters rejected a proposal to amend the Charter to allow selectmen to annually appoint nonresidents as town auditor, town attorney, code enforcement officer, plumbing inspector and sealer of weights and measures. The tally was 767 "yes" to 839 "no."

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

 's picture

promote

Kevin learned. Now he is doing the right thing and moving on.
Les Otten might be a man who can envision our River Valley as an attraction.
Lem sissell was on the right track but i quess he wanted a fast buck.
So we are not rich in the river valley, so our children go elsewhere for jobs.
So we keep our cabins in Maine and cater to the vacationers.
Thank You, Rumford Citizens, for saving your grandchildren's wilderness.

 's picture

Alice...

My concern from the beginning was that the town not put itself in the position of having to spend tons of money on legal fees in court. You stated that I "learned", but my position has not changed. I listened to both sides, but in the end, it is the facts, not opinion that make the difference. It is difficult to trust facts from an angry lynch mob of lobbyists. I still say that the methods used to develop this ordinance were unbalanced and unproductive. Had the board not given in to the lynch mob lobbyists, but rather worked with them and the pro-wind lobby to discuss this in a reasonable manner, perhaps we could have come to this conclusion a year and a half ago and not wasted that time.

 's picture

angry?

I do not remember being angry.

 's picture

Wind Power?

There seems to be comments left by a certain person on just about every issue pertaining to Rumford in this column consistently calling our selectmen the 3 stooges and not making the right decisions for this town... I'm quite offended by your remarks in one of your posts..and I quote "Moe-Larry and Curly are proud of their achievement of selling this town out to the self-centered selfish people"... I for one voted the way I did after taking a ride up Frye stretch and seeing all those wind towers... Clean energy or not I don't want to see those things in the back drop everyday when traveling around Rumford... You make it sound like the people (the Voters) of Rumford are ignorant and are incapable of making the right decisions for this town.... The more I read your posts the more I see that if the selectmen don't do what or how you want things done they're the stooges... I guess there's a reason why your no longer a selectmen...Cause the so called ignorant voters of Rumford have spoken...

 's picture

3 Stooges

Frank, I'm glad you are such a big fan of the 3 Stooges. But the stooges are not the local people who worked hard to find an ordinance solution to protect all the citizens of Rumford. The stooges are Obama and all the other green-pandering politicians who vote to use taxpayer money to support an industry that wouldn't exist without heavy subsidization, while the country goes deeper and deeper in debt. The stooges are Obama and the pandering politicians who believe they must mandate electricity be generated from the most costly, inefficient, and environmentally degrading source possible. The wind industry is the bastard son of Enron and it is a ruinous road for us to go down.

If First Wind doesn't like Rumford's ordinance, it is because they know that the noisy, intrusive technology will never meet the sensible criteria set forth. They are in a frezied drive to put up as many of these useless machines as possible before the 30% upfront taxpayer-cash giveaway from Obama goes away. They will simply move on to ravage another part of our beautiful state. Rumford will be far better off without First Wind.

Finally, has it occured to you that just maybe the River Valley residents are appalled at seeing the destruction of Record Hill, Patridge Peak, and Flathead Mt. in Roxbury and the imposition of 40 story tall industrial turbines on the region and saying "no more"?

Straw Poll Results

What good do they have because this board ignores them anyway. And if they do listen this time they will make sure that the people they appoint think the same way they do. And two of them were on the board that appointed the last commission. Continued downfall of Rumford.

 's picture

Thank you, Rumford voters

For effectively shooting our town in the foot. In 3 or 4 years, when the paper mill goes under because it can't compete, you'll be wishing that you had thought this through a little better.
When your property tax rates are at 50 mils instead of 22 mils because the paper mill closed and doesn't pay half of the town taxes but the selectmen still want the same services that Auburn has, maybe you'll look back and say 'Gee, that was dumb.' Then it will be too late.
The mountains won't be so pretty when having them instead of cash in your pocket hits home and tourism doesn't even come close to matching the lost income.
Aren't we all lucky, we get to see how a ghost town actually comes into being first-hand.

 's picture

The point this original post

Was not to set myself up as being either pro or anti wind. What the town has done in accepting an ordinance that is so stringent is send a message to every other business that may want to move to the River Valley. The message is two-fold and it says that this community is unwilling to accept change in the name of progress and that any company that wants to do business here had better sell pizza or sandwiches.

So Far

Ed you have one disagree. It must be an anti winder. The people of Rumford will regret their decision on Tuesday. The oil owners who have been making money from CMP using their property as a lay down yard for the power line upgrade while at the same time opposing wind developement in their own community. And the people go along with them. Puzzling!!!!! These same people run Black Moutain, which could have profitted from wind and stopped asking the town for money. That's right ,the mountain might have converted to electricity and there goes the oil bid. Interesting!!!!!! Paper mill-paper mill mentality dependence. Another opportunity for Rumford washed down the river. I hope that Moe-Larry and Curly are proud of their achievement of selling this town out to the self-centered selfish people.

 's picture

Ed...

Regardless of what anyone thinks of wind power, the developers weren't intending upon paying taxes. They were looking to get their taxes rebated to pay for the project despite the fact that the entire project is subsidized by the federal government. Meanwhile, they get to keep the profits from welling the power to out-of-state companies. There would have been no tax revenue, no reduction in our power rates, and no other benefit, but we would be "blessed" with the sight and sound of the wind towers.

I am sorry that some landowners were unable to profit from this project. As with any business venture involving public regulation, sometimes decisions made have unintended consequences. Moving forward, we need to work together as a community to identify ways to build our tax base and economy. While it is unlikely that other projects will provide the same financial opportunity for these landowners, I would ask that they not work against any efforts to maximize the utilization of the resources we currently have. There are many great ideas out there, and one landowner can be key to the success or failure of any one of them. I have heard of landowners planning to block access to their land to snowmobile traffic in retribution for not having the opportunity to profit from the wind project. This would shut down snowmobile access to large sections of our community, and be a negative economic impact on our economy. I truly hope that these landowners reconsider such action. Our area relies upon the snowmobile visits from vacationers. The clubs do an excellent job of maintaining the trails. To throw that away over wind-power would be unwise.

Join in Kevin

with Moe -Larry and Curly and you are now Shemp the fourth of that comic group.

 's picture

name-calling

Frank, don't look now, but your lack of maturity is showing :(

The shoe fits

Doesn't Kevin? You continually change mid stream and when the vote goes opposite of the way you think. Mostly middle of the road you side with the vote. Don't talk to me about maturity. You need to grow up and stop playing both sides from the middle.

 's picture

both sides??

I am a Moderate, that is what we do.... we look at situations, gather the facts and decide what is best. Unlike liberals and conservatives, we are not super-glued to a political platform. Our platform is common sense. :)

 's picture

allow me to clarify

I decide my view based upon the facts I find, not the opinion of anyone else. I am not a Republican nor a Democrat. I am ME. You don't need to agree with me, but please do not try to categorize me either.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...