September 15, 2010

Proposed wind energy development ordinance goes to voters

By Donna M. Perry, Staff Writer,

PHILLIPS – Voters on Thursday will consider adopting an ordinance to govern where wind turbines – both commercial and residential – could be erected in town.

The Planning Board developed the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance, which goes to voters at a special town meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the town office.

The 17-page document outlines specifically where a turbine may go, using formulas addressing setback distance, acoustic hazards, flicker hazards, falling and debris hazards. Also incorporated into the equations are the manufacturer’s guaranteed maximum sound level, turbine height, and safety and uncertainty factors where applicable.

The proposed ordinance does not say there can not be a wind turbine in town, it outlines the criteria of where one or more could be erected, interim Town Manager Elaine Hubbard said Tuesday.

Without an ordinance in place, anyone could put a wind energy turbine up where they wanted to, she said. This way the town has some oversight of where they may go, she said.

Townspeople adopted a six-month moratorium on wind facility development in February, giving the Planning Board time to draft an ordinance.

Board members studied the issue and used various documents before putting one together that they believe meets the town’s needs and protects neighboring property owners.

The ordinance stipulates that if a turbine has a manufacturer’s guaranteed maximum sound level of 70 decibels, then one turbine would be 211 feet from neighboring property lines, Planning Board member Dain Trafton said.

If a turbine had a maximum sound level of 115 decibels, it would be set back 37,584 feet from a property line, according to the ordinance. The distance increases with the number of turbines proposed.

The ordinance is designed to acknowledge the property owner’s rights but not interfere with the rights of neighbors, Trafton said.

There is also a section that allows the property owners around the proposed turbine development to waive the setback requirement if they want to, he said.

“We set up rules that cannot be gotten around” except with surrounding property owners consent, Trafton said.

To view the ordinance go to and scroll down on the home page to the announcement of the town meeting. Below it is a link to review the proposal. Copies of the ordinance are also available at the town office.

Click here to download the ordinance.

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