Wind turbine setback ordinance draws fire

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BUCKFIELD — In one way or another, each of the three selectmen questioned the wisdom of the Planning Board’s recommended setback for wind turbines in their ordinance.

Town Manager Glen Holmes reported that the Planning Board had unanimously voted on a 1-mile setback for wind turbines in the town.

Selectman Eileen Hotham asked if this meant there would be no place in the town where wind turbines could actually be built. Holmes had produced a map at a recent meeting which showed this to be true.

Holmes said the only way for wind turbines to be built would be if the developer received a waiver from abutting landowners.

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Selectman John Lowell said he had hoped to see sound levels addressed within the ordinance.

Planning Board member James Parker said the ordinances could be changed and waivers could be made.

Selectman Chip Richardson countered with, “Why not make it right now and include sound?”

Parker said, “Because I don’t trust the efficiency of the present sound modules.”

Richardson was adamant that this would kill future business in the town because no new business would come knowing there was a noise limit.

Parker said the ordinance was strictly written for wind power development.

Richardson said the town was effectively telling any new business it is not wanted.

Planning Board member Michelle Casey said that people expected downtown noise, but up on a mountain where you bought property to be away from noise, they were not expecting to encounter noise from a windmill.

Robert Rand, an independent engineer spoke for several hours to the Planning Board recently saying that the nature of windmill sounds is different from industrial sounds as it produces a rhythmic sound which is what disturbs people. This ordinance has nothing to do with business sounds.

Holmes said a video of Rand’s presentation is available at the town office for anyone to watch.

Casey asked how effective the present meteorological towers were, and Holmes said that a spokesman from the state Department of Environmental Protection said they were uncannily accurate.

Casey said they really had no good models in Maine to follow as all the wind farms have one problem or another.

Lowell said, “The level of noise is the answer and that’s what I would like to see in the ordinance.”

In other business, the Maine Department of Transportation has awarded the town use of its radar speed trailer. Holmes said the town would have it for two weeks from Sept. 13 and would place it in appropriate places to show people how fast they were going.

The following election clerks were appointed: Judith Bennett, Barbara Bennett, Joan Abrams, Everett Tilton, Susan Bradbury Amy Beaucage and Lorna DeWitt.

The date for elections was set for Tuesday, June 8, and the annual town meeting for Saturday, June 12.

Holmes said the Budget Committee had begun work on the budget for 2210-11, and it is looking at a 6 percent increase or a 1.3 mil increase.

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