ROXBURY – Delays concerning creation of a mountain zoning district to allow wind power facilities on town hills have yet to critically affect wind power developers.

The latest delay came at Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting when Chairman Mark Touchette resigned, effective as of the board’s Sept. 23 meeting.

Touchette resigned to care for his 17-year-old son, who suffered a serious hand injury in a car accident last month that has required multiple surgeries in Boston.

His decision leaves Independence Wind LLC developers Angus King and Robert Gardiner idling in the wind, because Roxbury has just one selectman.

Months of work toward resolving the wind power issue are on hold despite a town meeting vote in March that OK’d creating the new zone. Procedural illegalities forced a revote, which until Tuesday was expected to happen this fall.

“It’s hard to say how serious the delay is going to be at this point, so, we don’t have a very good read on just what the timetable is going to be,” Gardiner said by phone Wednesday from Brunswick.

“If the town gets its decisions made and moves on (and) we can get the decision before the end of the year, that wouldn’t be all that serious.

“We feel really badly for the Touchette family and what they’ve had to go through in the last few weeks and, I think everybody in town feels the same way, so nobody’s trying to feel any time pressure as a result of that just yet. We’ll see how quickly other people in town step up to help deal with whatever has to be dealt with,” Gardiner said.

Since April, Touchette and Selectman Deborah DeRoche have conducted town business, lacking a third selectman. Efforts to fill that seat failed twice. No one wanted it.

Now, if people interested in running for selectmen can be found, it could be year’s end before any zoning decision is made.

Nomination papers can’t be taken out until after Sept. 23, Touchette’s last day. Then, a special town meeting would be scheduled – possibly as soon as Oct. 14 – to elect two selectmen, according to Town Clerk Nina Rollins.

The new board must then get up to speed with DeRoche on the wind power issue and proposed zoning change, and direct town planners to review and recommend revisions to the comprehensive plan and proposed creation of a new mountain district zone. Another special town meeting would be held on the ordinance.

All of this means more delays for King and Gardiner, who for the past year and a half have worked with Roxbury officials to gain approval of the new zoning district.

In the meantime, Independence Wind is preparing application information for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting process.

“We told the town we would not submit the DEP application as long as the town makes reasonable progress on the zoning issue. We never put an absolute timetable on and will resist doing so.

“The key question still is, when the town gets around to a vote, what’s it going to be? We haven’t seen what the Planning Board is putting forward yet. We all realize the comprehensive plan needs adjustment and the only way to do that is through the selectmen.

“We’re being patient. We have to adjust to things that happen,” Gardiner said.


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