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Three wind-related questions to face Dixfield residents; selectman considers resigning

DIXFIELD – Townspeople will have decisions to make about wind power when they head to the polls on Nov. 2, thanks to action taken at a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night.

Voters will face ballot questions on a wind ordinance that provides guidelines for such development, a comprehensive plan amendment that outlines areas where such development cannot take place and a citizen-initiative that asks whether wind development should happen at all.

Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky said that if residents decide to ban wind turbine development, the other two questions would be moot.

Selectmen Norine Clarke and Steve Donahue have been working on the 29-page wind ordinance for nearly a year.

Among the major components is a 4,000-foot setback from occupied structures, and a noise limit of 45 decibels during the night and 55 decibels during the day.

Selectmen voted 3-1, with Clarke dissenting and Donahue absent, to place the ordinance on the November ballot.

Clarke said she voted against the action because comments made at public hearings would not affect the final document, which she said her committee had promised all along.

She told the board Monday night that she might resign her position. On Tuesday, she said she was not sure whether or when she might submit her resignation.

“We promised for a year that the public would get a chance to provide input,” she said. “We thought we had plenty of time, but we didn’t.”

Skibitsky said the proposed wind ordinance neither attracts nor repels wind development.

“It allows Dixfield to regulate it, to be involved,” he said.

If passed, the ordinance would be retroactive to include any work already done on wind development that does not yet have Maine Department of Environmental Protection approval.

The comprehensive plan amendment calls for a prohibition against siting wind farms between the Webb River and Route 2, and between the Carthage town line and the Androscoggin River. Clarke again was the sole dissenter because the public hearing will be for information only and will not take into consideration comments made by residents.

On the question calling for a ban on wind power development, all four selectmen voted in favor of placing it on the November ballot.

Triggering the proposed ordinance and other wind-related questions is a tentative plan by Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., to build a 20-megawatt project on the Colonel Holman range, which could mean installing from seven to 14 industrial wind turbines.

Selectmen also approved asking voters whether they want an enforceable curfew put in place, and whether to borrow up to $250,000 to replace the sewer forced main pipe that is attached to the Webb River Bridge when the bridge is replaced next year.