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Voters OK moratorium on wind-power projects

At Tuesday night’s special town meeting, a majority of Roxbury residents enacted an ordinance that would place a 180-day moratorium on wind power development.

They also OK’d giving the fire department another $5,000 that was accidentally omitted from the March town meeting warrant, but passed over giving $1,000 to the River Valley Growth Council. Additionally, because no one took out nomination papers for a three-year selectman’s seat, that article was also passed over.

Regarding the wind power ordinance, the final tally after a short discussion was 67 yes, 34 no.

“We’re pleased with the outcome,” Linda Kuras, founder of Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury, said after moderator John Sutton announced the results and adjourned the meeting.

The group submitted the petition that sparked Tuesday’s meeting three weeks after Roxbury town meeting voters in March passed a zoning amendment allowing massive wind turbines along the town’s prominent ridgelines.

Previously, Kuras said the group filed the petition following procedural irregularities surrounding the March vote and problems with the zoning ordinance.

The moratorium was requested to give Roxbury time to learn more about wind energy and to prepare a land use ordinance that considers wind development and is consistent with the comprehensive plan.

During discussion Tuesday night, Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark Touchette told the standing-room-only crowd in the municipal building that the moratorium is retroactive to that March 3 town meeting and continues to Sept. 3. Selectmen can continue it further.

“Even with the moratorium in place, we can still do the land use ordinance, which gives rights to have wind turbines in Roxbury,” Touchette said. “Whether or not the moratorium goes through, we will still have a special town meeting on the ordinance.”

When people then asked why they were voting on a ban, Touchette said it was to correct errors that selectmen made regarding the land use ordinance, which was designed by Independence Wind LLC and accepted by Roxbury planners.

Essentially, two public hearings weren’t held and notices weren’t posted in the newspaper.

“Right now, the current land-use ordinance stands as is and no wind towers are allowed. I didn’t want to bring lawyers into it, so it was cheaper just to redo the process. Hopefully, we get it right this time,” Touchette said.

Last summer, Brunswick-based Independence Wind LLC, a Maine company formed to create large-scale wind projects in Maine and elsewhere in New England, partnered with area landowner Bayroot LLC and its land manager, Wagner Forest Management of Lyme, N.H.

They formed a company called Record Hill Wind LLC, which wants to develop wind power on a portion of Bayroot’s lands in Byron and Roxbury.

Byron town meeting voters in March rejected wind-power development.

Independence Wind is owned by former Maine Gov. Angus King and Rob Gardiner, former president of Maine Public Broadcasting.

Gardiner and King stated in a June 9 letter to Roxbury residents that they welcomed the six-month moratorium.

“We think that it is a good idea to give residents plenty of time to learn more about the issue and to prepare for a well-informed vote on the planning board’s recommendations at the end of the summer,” they stated.

Kuras’ group convened a public information forum on Saturday to educate people about wind power and its effects on Roxbury.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, in Roxbury, King and Gardiner will hold a presentation of new information obtained regarding their project’s impacts on sound, wildlife and views.

By Terry Karkos
Staff Writer

Lewiston Sun Journal

18 June 2008