DIXFIELD – The Board of Selectmen and Planning Board discussed recommended revisions to the town’s Wind Energy Facility Ordinance on Monday evening, including fire suppression systems on turbines.

Since January 2013, the Planning Board has been revising the ordinance, which  was approved by voters in 2012.

Planning Board Chairman Tom Child said the purpose of the meeting at Ludden Memorial Library was to go over recommended changes to “make sure that it’s a better, stronger ordinance than it was a year and a half ago.”

Three years ago, Patriot Renewables, LLC, of Quincy, Mass., approached Dixfield officials about constructing 13 wind turbines on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge. The corporation has been conducting research on the ridge, including wind tests, bird studies and environmental impacts.

Selectman Hart Daley asked the Planning Board if it had discussed including anything about fire prevention or de-icing.

“I didn’t know if, during your revisions, you thought about the possibility of having a fire-suppression system installed on the turbines,” Daley said.

“We were pretty much under the impression that it wasn’t an option to do that, based on the information that we had at the time,” Child said. “Maybe there’s some new technology that allows you to install fire-suppression systems on the turbine, but based on our research, it wasn’t something that was possible.”

“For me, the big concern is that if the turbines are going to be located where they propose, the area is heavily wooded, and it’d be difficult for us to put it out.”

Selectman Scott Belskis said, “I remember eight years ago, near the end of Coolidge Road, there was a fire in a wooded area like you’re talking about, and it took them forever to put out.”

Daley later asked the Planning Board about a revised section of the ordinance related to setbacks.

“The ordinance says that they have to build at least 4,000 feet from any scenic or special resources,” Daley said. “Initially, we had an issue with the language in the first ordinance, because we thought it was discriminatory to one of our scenic resources.”

Daley said the town Comprehensive Plan identifies three scenic resources: Sugarloaf Mountain, Webb River Falls and Colonel Holman Ridge.

“Initially, the ordinance included Sugarloaf and Webb River Falls as scenic resources, and left Colonel Holman out,” Daley said. “Now, it looks like these new revisions exclude all three of the scenic resources in our Comprehensive Plan.

“By eliminating all of them, it opens us up to the risk of destroying the scenic beauty and identity of the town by allowing all three to be open to construction,” Daley said. “I feel like those areas should be included.”

Child said Daley’s concerns were “among the things that we tossed around when making revisions.

“We asked the attorney about that section, and she said that you can’t define these places as setbacks because you can’t pinpoint where these places are,” Child said. “Where is Colonel Holman Mountain? Where is Webb River Falls? You can’t exactly say. After we tossed that around, we decided that it couldn’t be included. The Comprehensive Plan would have to be edited to go along with the ordinance.”

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