D. McKay: Time to exercise 'home rule'

Many of us are quite sure zoning regulations are not the right thing to do. Anxiety about restricting how one can use their land is good enough reason to say no to zoning. Local government gets that, and avoids zoning for the most part.  

In 2008, the state of Maine, by vote in Augusta, effectively zoned two-thirds of the state for industrial development. Wind energy facilities with humongous sized machines are without doubt, industrial. 

How do you say no to this zoning change? State laws don't change or go away, they just keep pushing along further and further, with Augusta imposing its will on communities.

Can a town "opt out" of this zoning ploy? The answer is no.

Many have heard that there is no recourse. It's a done deal: if your community lies within the two-thirds of the state zoned for industrial wind, too bad. Augusta rules.

Is grassroots response the answer? Yes.

Many communities are countering Augusta’s zoning rules by making their own rules. Sooner or later, the grassroots voice of all these communities will be heard in Augusta but, by that time, it may be too late for some. It’s time to exercise “home rule" before we lose that to Augusta.

Dan McKay, Dixfield

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Gary Steinberg's picture

Our Future, Defined by Maine Constitutional Breaches?

No more local ordinances are allowed by state decree
It has been declared that we are under central federal control, and wind turbines have been declared the answer to all of our problems.
States rights and local control are subordinant to the wind lobby and AWEA.
Self -serving interests (such as Angus King and son, Independence Wind and First Wind for example) and crony captialism now rules( as long as the public does not break into open revolt in the streets).
DEP/LURC are pupits of corporate citizens, and representative government has ended for the affected.

Does this sound surreal?

It should not, it is happening Right Now in the Plantation of Maine.

Gary Steinberg's picture

The Maine State Constitution is Supreme

Article One of Maine State Constitution Shall not be subverted!
It is only because of a sleeping citizenry that the stooges of Augusta attempt to centrally control. Let's face is, how many of them(politicians) read and understand Article one and the concept of home rule.(Yes, get it out and read it)!
Indeed in Maine , the Supreme court is affected more by politics than that which they are sworn to uphold it would seem.
They stand inferior to legislative dictates on the wind issue it would appear from past court tests brought by citizens (see Foll v DEP)
This is most unfortunate.
Only by having the citizens of each community raise hell in support of their constitutional rights opposing wind will this travesty called LD-2283(The Wind Law, past while the legislature slept) be expunged or controlled to prevent damage to the health and well being of Mainers.

But Mainers must seize their constitutional rights here.


Alice Barnett's picture

local level

involvement in local level is important and towns across Maine are challenging their own selectmen, Peru, Rumford, ah not Carthage.
Carthage chose to let the lawyers fight it out while the DEP and the GRID scale WIND applicants went along a pre-determined time line.

Carthage citizens cannot petition more than once. Even though citizen's have learned of facts and want to re-vote. Oh well...

Woodstock citizen's were blindsided when their selectmen opted to vote a 5 decibal increase in an al ready flawed noise law. Maine's noise law is very old and is set at 45 decibals at night. Rural Maine is used to 20 decibals and long nights of quiet.Woodstock's owners of camps around the project were not aware of GRID WIND coming in. Blindsided.

Oh well...the WIND industry planned on Mainers being asleep. They tell no one that they are on a "Receptor" study.

Instead GRID WIND gives money to snowmobile clubs. The clubs are somewhat happy but....no one tells them all the ridges will be closed due to insurance factors..oops.

If LURC is controlled by DEP GRID WIND standards then, 2/3 of Maine will be permitted. This not funny...

How can ? generation Mainers, who chose to live in wilderness get their rights back?

Brad Blake's picture

Many residents of the LSJ

Many residents of the LSJ area are concerned about maintaining quality of life--people who choose to live in rural areas for the peace and quiet, for the natural resources, and for the birds and wildlife. An industrial wind power site can shatter all of this. Rural Maine is an easy target for wind developers because of large expanses of undeveloped land often owned in large tracts by a few landowners and because the dangers inherent in utility scale wind turbines preclude them being installed in more built up areas. Manipulative wind developers also entice local approval by dangling tantalizing (albeit tiny) amounts of money in front of local officials of towns that are struggling to find revenues.

Utility scale, or industrial, wind turbines range from 389 feet to 485 feet tall, more than twice as high as the tallest building in Maine. Placed on ridges and with their aviation warning lights blinking, they dramatically change view-scapes. The service roads and pad sites for these machines require extensive clear cutting, blasting, and leveling, as the components are so huge that special hauling trucks are required and assembly is done by what Reed & Reed Co. states is the “biggest crane in New England”.

Operation of a wind power site creates siltation and washing of herbicide residues into your watershed. Wildlife habitats are fragmented and wind turbines are notorious for bird and bat kills, though wind companies work diligently to cover this up. Unfortunately, anyone living within a mile or so of industrial wind turbines can also be bothered by both the incessant audible noise when blades are turning, and many are physically affected by pulsations of inaudible low frequency sound waves.

Is this what you want for your community? It will be if you do not take local action. In April 2008 an unknowing Legislature passed LD 2283, the so-called Expedited Wind Permitting statute without debate in the waning hours of the session. This law has stripped residents of having a say in siting wind power projects, has opened the door to an onslaught of development of industrial wind power sites, and rendered both the DEP and LURC to the role of rubber stamping every project. More than two dozen communities in Maine have taken notice of this and have passed local ordinances controlling wind power development, including Rumford, Newry, Buckfield in your area. The state will not protect you; only the concerned citizens in a local community can control their destiny and it should come before the wind developer comes to town. It need not be a huge sprawling 100 MW project, either, as the statute specifically encourages small projects like the three turbines at Freedom and Vinalhaven as “Community Based” projects of 10 MW or less.

Monique Aniel's picture

home rule and wind project permitting

In March 2009 a bill titled "An Act to Facilitate Wind Power" ( LD 199 ) came before the Joint Natural Resources Committee. Its purpose - eliminate local decision making for wind projects.
One of the bill's sponsors was Stacey Fitts, now Co-Chairman of the Energy, Technology and Utility committee. An outpouring of citizen opposition killed the billin committee.
The Maine Municipal association took a strong position against that bill.
Dozens of towns since then have adopted ordinances that place common sense restrictions on wind turbines.

Last spring, Stacey Fitts used his position on the committee to derail every single bill submitted that aimed to correct the many flaws of the Expedited Wind Law. The wind industry has a friend in Stacy Fitts, whose employer, Kleinschmidt Associates, provides engineering services to the wind industry.
With LD 199 , Maine Towns almost lost their right to Home Rule as far as wind permitting is concerned .

Now the wind industry , together with several environmental organizations, realize the mistake they made by not removing town self- determination when they wrote the already paralyzing Expedited wind law (LD 2283).
They will try to do everything to correct this omission and they have friends in Augusta to support this.
Maine selectmen and residents must stay alert of any attempt from Augusta to destroy home rule , the bedrock of Maine's democracy.
Monique Aniel

Karen  Pease's picture

Home Rule

Dan, I agree that home rule is very important. While the state and federal governments have roles to play, over the years they have stepped far outside the boundaries set for them in the Constitution.

However, it is also important to be involved at the basic level in town government, too. As you saw in the SJ story last week, Patriot Renewables donated $10,000.00 to Eleven Circles, which is co-owned by the daughter-in-law of one of your selectmen. And PR wants to build a wind turbine project in your town. While I am sure Eleven Circles is a worthy organization, payments like that--made to a close family member of a person in authority in your town, raise alot of questions about ethics. PR has no business bribing its way into towns with donations to libraries, snowmobile clubs and fuel assistance funds--but the State of Maine has sanctioned such payoffs.

Shame on us. It's time we all took a more active role in the direction and future of our communities.

Karen Pease
Lexington Twp., ME


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