CARTHAGE – Selectmen have yet to decide what action, if any, they will take on a petition outlining a proposed wind ordinance for their town.
The petition, signed by 28 Carthage voters, was presented at the last board meeting by resident Alice Barnett.
First Selectman Steve Brown said he has concerns about the method by which signatures were gathered, as well as about the possibility that the proposed ordinance may be a redundant action because a majority of residents at a special meeting a few weeks ago voted against establishing a wind development moratorium.
“I wonder if some of the signers actually saw the ordinance,” he said prior to Monday’s board meeting.
He said that although the petition states that the ordinance is attached, it wasn’t and was handed separately to him at the last meeting.
Also, he told Barnett, Dan McKay and others who attended Monday’s board meeting that although Barnett signed the circulation oath declaring that she had collected the signatures, others circulated the petition, as well.
McKay said he and Fremont Tibbetts had circulated the petition, but he believed that was a minor issue.
“What we’ve found out is that a lot of people don’t know about wind development,” he said.
Barnett also questioned why she couldn’t keep bringing petitions calling for a wind ordinance before selectmen.
Brown said the petition questions, and many others related to a tentative plan by Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., are being researched by the town’s lawyer, Jennifer Kreckel, and soon, by the Maine Municipal Association.
Among those other questions is a determination on whether the so-called 320-acre parcel known for a century as the town lots actually are owned by the town.
The name of an alleged heir to the last the known owner was presented to the board a couple of days prior to the special town meeting on a proposed moratorium. Since then, that heir has deeded over the parcel to Friends of Maine Mountains, a organization based in Wilton that opposes wind-turbine development.
The matter is expected to go before a Franklin County Superior Court judge within the next few weeks to determine the owner of the 320 acres. No one has paid taxes on the land for at least a century.
Kreckel is making the case for the town.
Patriot Renewables wants to construct a wind farm on privately held land, of which it has an option to buy, along the Saddleback Mountain ridge. The town lots are adjacent to it. Patriot wants to construct several other turbines on the property and lease the land from the town.
In a related matter, River Valley Growth Council member Bill Hine, who attended the board meeting as an outreach effort by the group, said the council plans to have a representative from Patriot Renewables at the Oct. 6 meeting.
“The growth council hasn’t taken a position on wind power, but I feel the (overall public) discussion has been pretty one-sided,” he said.
McKay announced a wind forum at 6 p.m., Sept. 29, at Mountain Valley High School sponsored by the River Valley Wind Education Committee.
He said other towns in the River Valley area, including Rumford and Dixfield, are putting proposed wind ordinance questions on their November ballots. He asked Carthage to do the same.
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