RUMFORD – Selectmen on Thursday scheduled a workshop on a wind turbine ordinance, which will go to voters in June. The workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 24.
Board members discussed whether to have an ordinance similar to one developed by a special wind ordinance committee last year, or to follow Maine State Planning Office regulations on such development.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick wanted to present two or three options to voters, but no authority for such a method of voting was allowed in the town’s charter.
“Taxpayers ought to have a choice,” he said. “Choices do matter.”
Selectman Mark Belanger said a majority of voters made their wishes known when they voted down a proposed ordinance last November.
“We can’t please everyone. We gave the Rumford model a go, now give the State Planning Office model a go,” he said. “Tweak it, but not to the point of it not being standardized.”
“All I want is a fair ordinance. We need to treat this company fairly, like the mill or the gas plant,” he said.
First Wind LLC of Boston has proposed constructing up to 12 industrial wind turbines on Black Mountain and adjacent North and South Twin mountains. A representative of the firm had said that the proposed Rumford ordinance would virtually eliminate wind turbine development.
An ordinance should be in place within the next few months because a moratorium on wind development expires in May. Then, if there is no local ordinance, developers would rely on regulations outlined by the State Planning Office.
Selectman Greg Buccina said the Rumford-drafted ordinance was second to none.
“Not many towns are using the state’s model. They’re using their own to protect citizens of their town,” he said. “We get nothing out of this (wind development). If something in the (Rumford) ordinance is unpalatable, then change it. I’m not going to accept the DEP (State Planning Office) model.”
Resident Kevin Saisi said the board was responsible for putting forward an ordinance that was best for the community.
“We elected them. What they put forth should be the best for the town,” he said.
Resident Candice Casey said people want wind power and economic development.
Jim Thibodeau, a former selectman and member of the Wind Ordinance Committee, disagreed that the board could do justice to the creation of a wind ordinance by June.
“There are issues of noise, towers still standing and not being taken down. We on that committee went to people with facts and information. Work with the ordinance you’ve got and see what happens,” he said.
The vote, however, was to use the State Planning Office model, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said.
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