Fresh from last week’s success of helping Byron town meeting voters defeat an ordinance change favoring wind-power facilities, the grassroots Save Our Towns Coalition has now offered to help Roxbury residents do the same.
They’ve also changed their name to Byron Landowners Opposing Wind, or BLOW, according to co-founder Sarah Nedeau of Byron.
“BLOW is a group of concerned residents and nonresidents whose only interest is making certain (that) everyone has factual information concerning the wind project,” Nedeau stated by e-mail report early Wednesday morning.
She was referring to Brunswick-based Independence Wind LLC, which was formed to create large-scale wind projects in Maine and New England, and its offshoot, Record Hill Wind LLC. Last summer, Independence Wind partnered with area landowner Bayroot LLC and its land manager, Wagner Forest Management, to form Record Hill Wind to develop wind power facilities in Byron and Roxbury.
Last year and this winter, Independence Wind principals Angus King, a former Maine governor, and Rob Gardiner, a former director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, held a series of informational meetings in both towns prior to requesting changes to ordinances to allow wind power facilities.
Record Hill Wind has yet to apply for permits for the project from Roxbury planners or the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, or talk specifics regarding their project. Currently, they are only conducting studies.
At the March 3 town meeting in Roxbury, a majority of voters OK’d creation of a mountain district zone, specifically to allow wind towers to be placed at 1,500-foot elevation and higher. Now, some Roxbury residents are trying to reverse that vote.
Byron town meeting voters were asked to OK changing the 30-foot maximum height in the building ordinance to 450 feet to pave the way for wind towers.
Nedeau and BLOW members claimed Wednesday that much of the information provided to residents by Independence Wind “was either inaccurate or incomplete,” Nedeau said. Both sides have accused each other of providing misleading information.
In Byron, BLOW members offered information about the environment, noise problems associated with wind turbines, blasting required to site towers, interruptions to communications services from turbines, future access to ridges on which towers are sited, effects on animals and more.
They also sought information from two outsiders: Mars Hill resident Wendy Todd, who has testified before the state Legislature about the Mars Hill wind power facility and problems that she and other residents have had since the towers were erected; and Nancy O’Toole of Phillips, whom Nedeau said had studied the proposed Redington Mountain/Black Nubble wind power project in northern Franklin County.
“Having Wendy here was a tremendous help. As soon as she showed up, she was instrumental in helping people make up their mind, people who were on the fence,” Nedeau said.
BLOW member Jeff Narucki of Standish said Wednesday that Todd was very convincing. He and his wife own 30 acres in Byron and are building a house there.
Todd spoke about how the Mars Hill facility “has affected her life and her family. If you had any doubts and heard that, you didn’t have doubts anymore,” he said.
Narucki said BLOW’s purpose is to answer any questions people might have regarding wind power and the area.
“We’re not a bunch of lunatics making something bad up. Nobody’s out to cheat and lie for their own gains,” he said.
By Terry Karkos
20 March 2008
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