ROXBURY – People here might finally get a chance by late December or early January to resolve the longstanding issue of whether or not to allow wind power facilities on town hills.

Following 90 minutes of discussion at Wednesday night’s Planning Commission meeting, the only decision made by its three-member board was to reconvene discussion on Nov. 12 and continue it to Nov. 13 if needed.

The commission comprised of planners Barry Bunten, Mark Henry and Randy Orr was tasked by selectmen with drafting an amendment to the 1993 comprehensive plan addressing renewable energy to allow wind power facilities in Roxbury.

They must also revise a proposed ordinance that would create a mountain zone where wind turbines would be allowed at a certain elevation.

“The current plan creates loopholes and problems,” Henry said after the meeting.

“There’s nothing in our ordinance that says you can’t put up your own wind turbines. So the question comes in, can you put in a large-scale turbine? Our current zoning laws do not allow industrial structures in town, but is a wind turbine an industrial structure? The comprehensive plan doesn’t allow and, it doesn’t restrict wind turbines to be built in town,” Henry said.

Earlier this year, a majority of voters OK’d creation of a mountain zone district. However, because legal procedures weren’t followed and the comprehensive plan needs to be changed to address wind power, Roxbury must revote the issue.

On Wednesday night, John Maloney, an attorney with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, pointed out several things the commission should address.

“The way your ordinance is written, industrial wind power would be allowed in all rural districts,” Maloney said.

He suggested more precise terminology in both documents and a new land-use map showing where all zoning districts are located, including the proposed mountain zone.

Members of the anti-wind turbine project group, Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury, argued that planners should create a new amendment rather than go with one presented in August by wind power developer Independence Wind LLC.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Tony DeSalle, a Rumford resident who has a seasonal camp at Roxbury Pond. “It’s just too one-sided for industrial wind providers. It presents a rosy picture of Independence Wind turbines. . . . It behooves the town to get a lawyer and look at it.”

Independence Wind principal Rob Gardiner told DeSalle he was taking what they gave planners to use out of context by only focusing on parts pertaining to wind power.

DeSalle argued that the town should look at both sides of the issue.

Henry again reiterated their purpose was not to decide merits of wind power facilities, but rather to discuss or change language of the proposed amendment, then get it before voters for action.

When Henry asked if anyone had anything they’d like in the amendment, DeSalle said it wasn’t fair to ask non-lawyers to draft legal language.

“None of us are lawyers. Throw us some ideas. Tell us what you want,” Henry said to the crowd of about 25.

Later, the commission agreed to meet again at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 and continue work at the regular planning board meeting at the same time on Nov. 13.

Once the amendment and proposed zoning ordinance are finalized, a hearing will be held 30 days later.


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