RUMFORD – Depending on what selectmen decide at next Wednesday’s special meeting, voters trying to adopt an ordinance on Nov. 2 to regulate wind farms could face two proposals instead of one.
Currently, selectmen have accepted one proposed ordinance from the Wind Power Advisory Committee, which spent nine months adapting Dixmont’s ordinance for Rumford.
Like the Dixmont ordinance, the committee’s document was quickly labeled anti-wind last month by Neil Kiely of First Wind LLC of Newton, Mass.
First Wind has tentatively proposed constructing a $60 million, 12-turbine project on sections of Black Mountain and a nearby mountain.
Kiely said that if this ordinance passes in November, such action would be a permanent moratorium on wind power.
That’s why Board of Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley recently proposed a second ordinance: the Maine State Planning Office’s Model Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.
That ordinance, which follows wind power development standards determined by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, has been labeled pro-wind.
“My position is the people of this town deserve another option if we can get there and give them a good viable option,” Adley said late Thursday afternoon.
“It’s late in the game, so we’re trying to hustle to get this second option up and let the voters tell us and see where it all goes. Once the dust settles out of the election, whatever rule book they give us, we’ll play by that rule book.”
He said that without a second option, he fears that Rumford would be left without protection from wind farm development should voters defeat the committee’s ordinance.
Both proposals can be accessed from the town’s website at www.rumfordmaine.net.
When he broached the off-agenda topic at Wednesday night’s special board meeting – Kiely was present, but didn’t say anything – Adley immediately ran afoul of Selectman Greg Buccina, who staunchly defended the committee’s document.
Both Adley and Buccina were members of the committee and both helped draft its ordinance proposal, even though selectmen never tasked the committee with doing so, something that also raised Selectman Mark Belanger’s ire Wednesday night.
Adley sought to fast-track a vote by the whole board on the second option by having them meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in Rumford Falls Auditorium, because he and Belanger can’t attend Thursday’s regular board meeting. That’s when the Nov. 2 ordinance warrant would have been voted.
Buccina and Adley argued, with Adley advocating the second proposal and Buccina sticking with the first proposal.
“I don’t think a second ordinance is needed,” Buccina said. “I think you ask citizens to get involved – and they did – and then all of a sudden we say, ‘We don’t like what they have so we’ve come up with something else?’ I don’t think that’s politically good.”
Later, Buccina said he didn’t think the second proposal “does anything to protect the citizens of this community.”
“It’s a pro-wind ordinance,” Buccina said. “All that is, is a gateway for companies to do whatever they want to do with wind.”
He then asked if the state model was “so good,” then why aren’t other towns also adopting it?
Adley ignored the question, instead asking the board as a whole to vote on both proposals next week.
Raising his voice, Buccina then said of the pro-wind ordinance, “Why the hell do we need that thing? Why is that all important? You want to have a special meeting on a piece of legislation that we haven’t had ample time to review, and only because a couple people aren’t in favor of an ordinance we took nine months to develop?”
“I’ve never taken a position on that,” Adley said. “I think the citizens deserve two options.”
“And I don’t,” Buccina said.
After choosing next Wednesday to decide the matter, Belanger weighed in, also raising his voice.
“When this whole committee thing was designed, it was advisory only,” he said. “And as we went through the process, I kept asking Brad where we’re at, and all of a sudden you guys were making an ordinance and we never authorized them to do an ordinance.”
“And you never said anything,” Buccina said.
“Because (Brad) kept saying to me, ‘We’re going to tweak it at the end!’” Belanger said. “That’s the only reason I didn’t stir up any crap. And I’ll tell you what, I’ll stir up crap.”
“You go right ahead,” Buccina said.
“I will,” Belanger said.
“You have every right to do that,” Buccina said.
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