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Wind powers city to check tower rules

AUGUSTA – Faced with increasing interest in small, electricity-generating windmills, with little authority to regulate them currently, city planners tonight will hold a public hearing on a proposed new wind-energy ordinance.

The proposal, according to Matthew Nazar, deputy director of development services, would allow small wind-energy systems in certain areas while giving the city the power to place restrictions on their location, height and construction standards.

Windmills shorter than 60 feet have become a more popular alternative energy source, as fuel and electricity prices have increased.

“The city has seen a significant increase in the interest for small wind energy facilities in the last few months and that interest is expected to continue,” Nazar said in a memo to the Augusta Planning Board. “Under current regulations, such a facility can be erected anywhere in the city, with no height restriction, and a building permit required only for the installation of the base.”

The ordinance as proposed would allow small systems without Planning Board review in most of the city but would require board review as a conditional use in densely developed neighborhoods.

A public hearing is planned tonight at the Planning Board meeting at 6 in the lecture hall at Augusta City Center.

Planners are also scheduled to hold public hearings regarding:

* Proposed changes to city zoning rules that determine whether proposed construction projects must be reviewed by the Planning Board or code enforcement officer.

* Final application to build a Tractor Supply Company store and parking lot on Civic Center Drive.

Greely Associates has filed a preliminary application to build a 19,000 square-foot Tractor Supply Company store with an 18,000-square-foot fenced outdoor display area on 4.3 acres of a 40-acre lot.

The site is near the Augusta Elks Lodge on land owned by Cecil D. Quimby. The property is in the city’s Planned Development District.

Tractor Supply is a retail store catering to full and part-time farmers and ranchers, hobby farmers, rural homeowners and contractors, according to the company’s Web site.

It operates over 750 stores in 40 states, selling items including clothing, equine and pet supplies, tractor/trailer parts and accessories, lawn and garden supplies, sprinkler/irrigation parts, power tools, fencing, welding and pump supplies, and mowers.

* Final application from W & S Wood Products to construct a new eight-lot subdivision along Route 105.

The site is in the city’s Riggs Brook Village District.

By Keith Edwards
Staff Writer

Kennebec Journal

22 July 2008