Sumner eyes wind-power moratorium

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SUMNER — Selectmen are considering asking voters to approve a moratorium on commercial wind power development while a comprehensive wind power ordinance is written.

The Planning Board told selectmen Tuesday night that members had carefully studied the subject and felt that an ordinance was needed so the town could get the most benefit from the positive impact of commercial wind power installations and suffer the least from the negative aspect of such projects.

Planning Board Chairman Danny Perron said large wind turbines could have either a positive or negative impact on taxes, property values and the health of townspeople.

That is why the board proposed a 180-day moratorium with a potential 180-day extension to research the subject, provide information to the public, obtain input from the public and write an ordinance suitable for the town.

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Selectman Mark Silber said the needed work would overload the Planning Board and would exclude knowledgeable and interested residents. Selectmen agreed to solicit volunteers to work with the Planning Board.

A special town meeting will be held June 6 to vote on the moratorium. Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Mary Ann Haxton said adequate time would be given to discuss the issue before the vote was taken. She stressed that this was not a vote on wind power but a vote on whether the town should take time to develop an ordinance before considering applications for commercial wind power projects.

In other business:

* Road Commissioner Jim Keach spoke about the Public Utilities Commission complaint against him for severing a telephone cable while grading a road. Keach said the cable was only 3 inches below the road surface.

The PUC claims that Keach should have checked with Dig Safe before grading the road. Dig Safe is routinely called to locate buried cables in the area of proposed construction. The PUC requires only hand tools be used in the vicinity of cables. Keach maintained that routine grading of a gravel road is not “construction” requiring notification of Dig Safe.

* Buckfield Town Manager Glen Holmes reported on the Buckfield/Sumner Transfer Station performance and presented its proposed budget. It includes $30,000 to be taken from reserves to cover the cost of adding a wear surface to the paving at the station.

* A resident who lives on Labrador Pond Road complained that the snowplows had dug up a 6-foot wide, 6-inch deep strip of his front yard. Keach and Lowe agreed that the road was so narrow at that point with solid rock, power poles and mailboxes along the other side that there was no way to keep that section of road open without using the plow wing to push the snow back. While this should cause no trouble when the ground is frozen, the wing digs in when the ground is thawed, Keach said. He agreed to repair the damage with loam.

* Fire Chief Bob Stewart reported on a new tanker recently delivered to the town. He proposed taking the good tires off the old tanker and putting them on their primary fire engine, then selling the old tanker for scrap. Be said the old tanker would bring enough money to cover the expense of new rims to make the tires fit the engine.

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