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Voters to get a say on wind power in Antrim

ANTRIM – While the fight over proposed windmills on Tuttle Hill heads to court, a zoning amendment on wind energy will appear on March’s town meeting warrant.

The amendment, which spells out where wind energy facilities are allowed, was trimmed down at a public hearing last week.

The planning board had looked to make wind energy a permitted use in about two-thirds of town.

At the hearing Thursday, the board scaled this back to just two zoning district types – highway business and rural conservation.

“These are the places in town that would be viable for a wind energy facility,” said Peter Moore, town planner.

That would still include Tuttle Hill, where Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy proposes installing up to 10 industrial-sized turbines, which can be more than 400 feet tall. (Eolian has not said how tall its turbines would be.)

The change to town zoning law was proposed in an effort to avoid a repeat of the current debate over Tuttle Hill. Residents are now suing the town to prevent the project from going through. Eolian, meanwhile, is suing the town to see that it does.

The amendment wouldn’t make this or future projects a sure thing, Moore said, but clarify town law.

“(It’s) not a rubber stamp for permitting a project,” he said.

The board also narrowed the scope of the amendment from renewable energy facilities to wind energy only.

The competing lawsuits will be heard sometime after April 1, according to Moore.