Freedom residents will vote June 10 on a proposal to reinstate the town’s Commercial Development Review Ordinance, which was rescinded June 12, 2007.
Supporters of the proposed wind power project on Beaver Ridge launched the drive to overturn the project after the town’s Board of Appeals voted to overturn the Planning Board’s approval of the development.
Among other things, the appeals board members found the Planning Board was wrong to conclude the project would meet the tough noise standards that were part of the ordinance.
Noise is at the heart of the debate over what to do about Beaver Ridge. Supporters say the turbines are virtually noiseless, while opponents point to horror stories about continual droning that penetrates house walls and makes it impossible to sleep.
Evidence suggests that both of those statements could be true, depending on where someone stands in relation to the turbines, and how sensitive they are to low-frequency noise.
For us, the issue is not about the desirability of wind power – we support it.
The issue is that Competitive Energy Services of Portland, the developer of the project, said in a May 14, 2007, letter to Freedom residents that it would comply with the requirements of the ordinance even if it was rescinded.
“This commitment includes … complying with every single one of the items listed in Article 8 Section 5 of the Ordinances [sic] titled, ‘Wind Energy Facility Siting and Construction,'” the company said.
Even so, CES encouraged townspeople to overturn the ordinance so the project could go forward.
We think that was a bad idea. Townspeople deserve a basic level of protection from the potentially harmful impacts of commercial projects like Beaver Ridge. Freedom has none.
If CES really is committed to, and capable of, meeting the requirements of the ordinance, it should not object to its reinstatement. A delay in the start of the project is less important than ensuring that legitimate health and safety concerns are adequately addressed.
By Citizen Editorial Board
7 June 2008
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