Rockport – “The Camden Energy Committee is not promoting the development of wind power on Ragged Mountain,” Camden Energy Committee member Rick Knowlton told the Rockport Select Board Oct. 12. “We’re promoting the discussion.”
In spite of that statement, the board decided to postpone public comment on a presentation made by Knowlton and Camden Energy Committee Chairman Des FitzGerald until their Nov. 8 meeting, at which time they hoped to have received more expressions of community interest in serving on the Ragged Mountain Wind Work Group.
The nine-member work group was proposed by the energy committee and would comprise four members from Camden, three from Rockport and two from Hope. The ridgeline on Ragged Mountain runs through or nearby all three towns.
No project has been proposed, but studies have shown a viable wind resource on the ridge.
Following a presentation June 18 by the Island Institute’s Maine Coast community wind program director, George Baker, the energy committee recommended that the new committee be charged with the following tasks.
* Conduct and fund, through grants or fundraising, further feasibility research to address logistical, technical, economic, and environmental issues, as well as the scope and type of a potential project.
* Conduct community outreach to assess the level of interest and tolerance for a Ragged Mountain wind project.
* Coordinate wind ordinance development within the three towns.
It was estimated that these activities might cost between $50,000 and $75,000.
Rockport Select Board Chairman William Chapman said Oct. 12 that the board was considering the creation of an ordinance to regulate commercial wind projects.
“We certainly want to be represented on this committee,” board member Alexandra Fogel said. She suggested the board wait to make its appointments until more residents had a chance to submit letters of interest.
Chapman observed that the majority of Camden residents who applied to serve in the work group were opposed to a possible wind project on Ragged Mountain. He said that Rockport would see what happened in Camden and that the board would want to talk with applicants before appointing Rockport’s representatives to the group.
“I think I’m tipping my hat to my bias,” board member Dale Landrith said. He said that potential energy cost savings of 5 to 10 percent estimated from such a project did not justify the potential environmental damage.
“I don’t see why we’re even pursuing this,” he said to a scattering of applause from the two-dozen or so audience members.
“If there is a committee, I want [Rockport] to be on it,” Landrith added.
In spite of a statement by Chapman that there would be no further comment heard until the next Select Board meeting, questions were asked of the board.
Rebekah Woodworth asked that the board notify residents if any application for a wind development was received by the town. Fogel said that, in the absence of an ordinance, no applications would be considered, should they be submitted. She suggested interested citizens monitor the activities of the Planning Board.
Board member Tracy Murphy said an application could not be approved or denied without an ordinance in place.
Liz Hertz, director of the land use team at the Maine State Planning Office, said Oct. 13 that the only way to refuse an application in the absence of an ordinance would be to enact a moratorium.
“Without a moratorium, they’re not in a position to refuse to look at an application,” Hertz said. She said a moratorium was a “very legitimate tool for a municipality to use when they feel they’re behind on an emerging issue. They can enact a moratorium for the express reason of taking a deep breath and going through a thoughtful process.”
The Select Board voted unanimously to participate in the work group, but to delay appointment of Rockport’s representatives until their next meeting. To date applications have been received from Robert Iserbyt, Jim Mays, Jan Rosenbaum and Tim Woodworth.
Following the vote, FitzGerald said he would not like to see a committee composed of opponents to wind power on Ragged Mountain.
“If the work group from Camden is all made of Friends of Ragged Mountain it would be difficult to raise $75,000,” he said. Friends of Ragged Mountain is a group of area residents who have expressed opposition to a potential development.
Knowlton said the preponderance of opponents and skeptics applying to serve as municipal representatives might indicate a lack of support for a wind development on Ragged Mountain.
Anyone interested in representing Rockport on the Ragged Mountain Wind Work Group should submit an application for committee service, available at the Rockport Town Office. For more information, call the office at 236-0806.
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