RUMFORD – Selectmen may decide whether to place a 42-page proposed wind energy facility ordinance before voters during the Nov. 2 general election at their Thursday board meeting following a special three-hour workshop Monday night.
But first, they plan to hold yet another workshop prior to the Thursday meeting.
For nearly three hours, the board listened to John Maloney of Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Andy Fisk of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Neil Kiely of First Wind LLC of Newton, Mass., and some of the 30 or so people who turned out for the meeting, including several who served on the town’s Wind Project Advisory Committee, the group that drafted the ordinance.
Kiely, New England director of development for First Wind, said the ordinance as proposed is not something his company could work with. He said that if the proposed ordinance passes in November, such action would be a permanent moratorium.
“It’s appropriate to have a law to protect (residents) but it has to be applied fairly. This ordinance is adapted from Dixmont,” he said. Many believe the ordinance approved in the town of Dixmont essentially banned wind development.
The wind company has tentatively proposed constructing a $60 million, 12 turbine project on sections of Black Mountain and a nearby mountain.
Selectman Greg Buccina believes the proposed ordinance is important to protecting residents as well as stringent enough to prevent people from challenging it.
“I think we need to overprotect,” he said.
Selectman Mark Belanger argued that the proposed ordinance essentially outlaws wind development.
“This is a no-win ordinance. Some people want wind. If this passes, it will be totally restricted,” he said.
Maloney said many of the procedural flaws were corrected in the current draft. When asked point blank, he said the ordinance would be workable.
“No matter what you have in the ordinance, people will make decisions on whether they think wind power is good or bad,” he said.
As proposed, the ordinance calls for a mile setback from property lines and a decibel level of no more than 40 during the day.
Fisk, an engineer with the Bureau of Land and Water Quality of the MDEP, spoke of a model that maps sound similar to how the contours of land are on a topographic map.
He also said the original State Planning Office model wind ordinance has been changed since its inception several years ago to include improved ambient conditions, and additional sound testing.
Board Chairman Brad Adley suggested that residents have a chance to vote on either the ordinance written by the Wind Project Advisory Committee or on the State Planning Office model ordinance.
No member of the board supported that idea.
The town is currently in the second six-month moratorium on wind turbine development. Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that expires in December.
The board will meet at 5 p.m. prior to the Sept. 2 regular meeting to continue discussion on the proposed ordinance.
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