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Clifton to vote on wind ordinance

CLIFTON, Maine – A group of residents has petitioned for changes to the wind turbine portion of the recently enacted land use ordinance and requested a secret ballot vote on those changes in November.

Selectmen rejected the residents’ request at their last meeting, saying, “they didn’t want it on the ballot and sent it to the planning board,” Eric Johns, chairman of the planning board, said on Tuesday.

The town attorney says portions of the proposed changes are illegal, but even so, planners voted Tuesday to allow the vote to move forward and to hold a joint public hearing Sept. 17 with selectmen to present residents with the proposed amendments.

“Like it or not, they have a right” to vote on the matter, planning board member Bruce Jellison said.

The planners recommended that residents vote no in November and said they don’t endorse the residents’ amendments because town attorney David Szewczyk says at least two of the proposed changes are possibly illegal.

“My opinion about the property value assurance is that it’s illegal,” he said during the meeting. He added later that, “there are two areas that potentially are illegal or unconstitutional.”

Crystal Phillips, who led the most recent citizens’ petition, said there basically are five major changes in the proposed land use code amendments.

“There is a property value assurance plan; there is an ethics clause,” she said. “We wanted to change the bond, or the cash escrow account, in case the things have to be decommissioned and change the setbacks from 4,000 feet to 13 times the size of the tower or one mile, and have a townwide limit of five.”

Phillips also led a citizens’ petition drive in June that asked residents to endorse a six-month moratorium on wind turbines, which was defeated by a narrow margin.

The Sept. 17 public hearing times will be posted Thursday at the town hall.

During the meeting, the board also reviewed portions of Bangor businessman Paul Fuller’s plan to build five wind turbines on Pisgah Mountain. Most of the discussion centered on ambient noise testing and hiring a consultant to review the noise data and the proposed project’s final plan.