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Phillips wind ordinance in hands of voters

PHILLIPS – The Town of Phillips will hold a Special Town Meeting Thursday, Sept. 16, at 6.30 pm in the Phillips Town Office to act on the following article: “Shall an ordinance entitled ‘Town of Phillips, Maine, Wind Energy Facility Ordinance’ be enacted?” Copies of the ordinance are available at the Phillips Town Office.

The original copy was attested and certified as received at a recent selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 24.

The question will come before the voters as a result of over six months of work by the Phillips Planning Board. The board worked diligently seeking input from other townspeople, organizations and experts. They also worked closely with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments and the Maine Municipal Association.

Over the six month period, the board held numerous informational meetings, a public hearing and with the Sandy River Land Trust, sponsored a public presentation by Robert Rand, a professional acoustical engineer, on the special noise problems posed by turbine blades, explained Dain Trafton a member of the planning board.

The issue of creating wind ordinances has come up in a number of towns in Maine. Some towns have enacted them, others have decided to use the state’s standards for siting windmills and some towns have said there’s no need without a wind power development proposal on their table.

“Some people have wondered why we worked so hard on a wind ordinance before we had a proposal for a project in town,” Trafton said. “We considered that question at the beginning and decided that the best way was to write our ordinance without the pressure that inevitably comes from a developer who wants to shape the regulations to suit their plans.”

Trafton explained that without pressure, they thought they would be able to think clearly about the issues and come up with reasonable solutions.

“I think we have succeeded in doing that, and I would urge other towns to develop ordinances before they have a specific proposal on their hands,” Trafton explained.

He explained that goal of the planning board has been to develop an ordinance to ensure that wind turbines erected in the town will be properly sited in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants of the town.

“As numerous recent wind developments have demonstrated, the promise of wind power can bring with it many problems, especially when it is sited too close to where people live. Improperly designed projects can also cause environmental harm.”

According to the planning board, the Phillips Wind Energy Facility Ordinance is designed to protect the people of Phillips from the problems and harm that can accompany wind power, while encouraging carefully planned and well-sited development.

“Creating this ordinance has been one of the most satisfying undertakings in my life,” Trafton explained.” The work of the planning board brought together people with a wide variety of backgrounds and talents from technical engineering, to environmental expertise, and even literary with input from Dr. Trafton a retired professor.

“We set our minds cooperatively to the task and have created something that will be, I think, a great benefit to the town in the years ahead. I am very pleased to have been part of the effort.”