RUMFORD – Few people turned out Monday night for a public hearing on a proposed wind ordinance that residents will decide on Nov. 2.
Those who spoke, however, said the ordinance was a protective measure for Rumford residents.
“If there is no wind ordinance, citizens are at the mercy of developers,” said Jim Thibodeau, a member of the Wind Advisory Committee “If there is no ordinance and you have an issue, you have no power. This is protective. Please vote this in.”
Also speaking were Dan McKay, who opposes a similar project in Dixfield and wind development in general, Rumford resident Len Greaney and Dr. Albert Aniel, who has also opposed the the development of wind projects in the area because of what he said is a danger to peoples’ health.
Representatives of potential developers First Wind LLC of Boston, Mass., did not speak during the hearing.
Following the hearing, Neil Kiely, First Wind’s director of development for New England, said that there will be opportunities to speak at two more Rumford meetings set for Oct. 12 at Mountain Valley High School, which will also include a hearing on proposed charter changes, and Oct. 14 in the Rumford Falls Auditorium.
Earlier in the day, Kiely spoke before the weekly Rotary Club meeting.
At that time, he said the company plans to begin holding a series of informational meetings with various groups to let people know the benefits of developing the ridges of Black Mountain and two adjacent mountains.
Kiely said that the ordinance, as proposed, would not allow his company to develop the tentatively planned project that calls for building 12 turbines in Rumford and seven in adjacent Roxbury on privately owned, leased land. That project would add about $65 million to the towns’ tax value, he said.
The proposed ordinance, he said, is as restrictive as one developed in Dixmont that he said effectively banned wind project development.
At the Rotary meeting, he said First Wind uses a variety of scientific experts to study plants, wildlife, sound and other aspects of wind development. He said the company is also a good corporate citizen by supporting youth projects and scholarships, conservation efforts, and other socially positive activities.
He asked Rotarians to oppose the current proposed ordinance, then start over with the development of another ordinance.
Aniel, a Mexico resident, said at Monday’s hearing that the 40 decibel limit for nighttime noise called for in the ordinance mirrors guidelines written in a State Planning Office document issued in 2000.
Later state regulations allow 45 decibels at night and 55 during the day.
Prior to Monday’s hearing, one selectman said First Wind should have presented its perspective at a wind forum held last week which about 50 people attended, with the vast majority opposed to wind development.
Kiely said Monday night that his company did not receive the invitation until the day before the Tuesday event.
At the Rotary meeting, President Rich Allen said he has heard much publicity against wind development. He questioned whether the objections were widespread or confined to a small vocal group.
A spokeswoman for First Wind said Monday night that the company plans to present the benefits of wind turbine development at both the Oct. 12 and Oct. 14 meetings.
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