The secret ballot referendum that asked residents to reenact the Commercial Development Review Ordinance that voters repealed last June failed Tuesday night in a vote of 117 in favor of the ordinance to 164 opposed.
The ordinance has been the source of much controversy in the town for that past two years. The original Commercial Development Review Ordinance was created in response to a windmill project proposed by Portland-based Competitive Energy Services (CES) in 2006. CES expressed interest in constructing three wind turbines on Beaver Ridge. The ordinance was first passed in August 2006.
CES applied for a building permit in September 2006, and the planning board approved it in January 2007. Soon after, a group of Freedom residents appealed the decision, claiming that the project could not meet standards that were set in the ordinance. When the group won the appeal, resident Glen Bridges started a petition to bring the repeal of the ordinance to a vote. On June 12, 2007, residents voted 159-112 to repeal the ordinance. On June 25, CES submitted another building permit application, which was approved July 12.
In recent months, a group of landowners opposed to the continuing progress of the wind turbine project have taken several measures to try to prevent it from moving forward as planned. This past spring, Jeff Keating started the petition to put the re-enactment of the ordinance on the June 10 ballot. Additionally, some of the landowners have served the town with two lawsuits, which, if passed, could stop the project.
Construction on the site has been ongoing. According to First Selectman Ron Price, the foundation for the turbines was poured last week.
By Megan Richardson
The Republican Journal & The Waldo Independent
10 June 2008
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