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Wind-power article is on ballot in Eliot

ELIOT, Maine – When town voters head to the polls on June 10, they could be making “green” history.

They will be asked if they want to allow small, private wind generators in town. If they approve the measure, Eliot will become only the third Maine municipality to have an ordinance governing small wind energy systems and the first town in southern Maine.

Eliot would join Wiscasset and Damariscotta, which adopted small wind power ordinances in June 2006 and in February of this year, respectively.

Mike Starn of the Maine Municipal Association said that the city of Saco was in the process of adopting an ordinance regulating wind turbines.

“Wind energy is something that Maine communities are looking at …; but will need some government regulations. Wind and solar technologies are new and need to be discussed more,” Starn said.

Saco planner Robert Hamblen said the city’s new ordinance won’t be limited to small private generators. The city already has two small wind turbines of its own, he said.

Eliot residents have expressed concerns regarding possible noise from wind turbines.

Larry Dow, chairman of the Eliot Energy Commission, reassured residents at a recent public hearing that “any wind turbine that is erected would have to comply with current Eliot noise ordinances, which are quite strict.” Based on their research the commission found that small wind turbines, less than 100 kilowatts would be appropriate for the town of Eliot, the kind that would go on one lot or a group such as a co-op situation, he said.

“This ordinance is written to put some standards against it, things like height, setbacks,” he said.

“They’re not going to build a rickety tower that will fall down on a neighbor’s chicken coop,” he said.

That’s not the only “green” article on the warrant. Another will clarify ordinance language that solar energy equipment is a permitted use in the town.

“The town of Eliot’s table of land uses says basically that if it’s not in the table, it’s not a permitted use, even though in this case it would be permitted as an accessory use. We wanted to be pro-active and say, ‘Solar energy systems are a go in the town of Eliot,'” he said.

By David Ramsay


29 May 2008