Planners in Camden and Rockport continue to work on ordinances that would regulate the development of wind energy facilities.
Opponents to the development of wind turbines atop Ragged Mountain were successful last fall in turning back an attempt to create a three-town committee to explore that prospect.
When the Camden Select Board on Oct. 26 decided not to appoint members to the Ragged Mountain Wind Workgroup, the decision effectively ended an effort that sprang from a proposal, made by the Camden Energy Committee, to create a nine-member work group that would have comprised four members from Camden, three from Rockport and two from Hope. The ridgeline on Ragged Mountain runs through or nearby all three towns.
No commercial or industrial wind project has been proposed for that location, or any other in the two towns, but studies have shown a viable wind resource on the ridge.
Rockport reviews ordinances
The Ordinance Review Committee met in Rockport Feb. 22 to discuss changes to the town’s regulations in regard to wind energy facilities.
According to Director of Planning and Community Development Tom Ford, the word “small” was removed from references to wind development in the existing ordinance so that the changes, if adopted, would apply to all wind systems. He said language would be added to ensure that all wind energy systems in Rockport adhered to the standard of Section B12 of the town’s Land Use Ordinance.
“The changes essentially mean that in Rockport there will not be any industrial-sized commercial wind energy systems,” said Ford.
He said the ordinance would allow one wind system per land parcel, and that the energy would have to be consumed on that parcel. Tower height would be restricted to no taller than 100 feet.
“The bottom line of these changes is that there will be no Mars Hill, Vinalhaven or Freedom-sized industrial wind farms in Rockport,” Ford said.
In Mars Hill, First Wind has constructed 28 turbines. Each tower is 262 feet all. Vinalhaven and North Haven’s resident-owned Fox Islands Wind operates three 250-foot tall turbines. At Beaver Ridge in Freedom, three 262-foot towers carry the turbines’ nacelles and blades.
Ford said the changes to Rockport’s ordinances must still face the public in three meetings. A public information meeting will be scheduled for mid to late March. The Planning Board and Select Board will hold hearings in April, before the Select Board finalizes the warrant for a June town meeting.
Camden seeks input from residents
Camden Planner and Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson said the planning board was still “roughing out” possible ordinance changes. He said the goal was to have something to present to voters in November or in the spring of 2012.
“We have the master ordinances and, with help from the Friends of Ragged Mountain, have gotten a lot of good information,” said Wilson. “It’s been a great help.”
Wilson said that existing elevation standards would prohibit wind development on Ragged Mountain in Camden.
“The planning board is looking at everything,” he said. “But they’re not looking to change the standard.”
Wilson said Camden was looking for ideas and suggestions from residents as the review process went forward.
To learn more about the work of the Camden Planning Board, contact Steve Wilson at 236-3353. Rockport Director of Planning and Community Development Tom Ford can be reached at 236-0806.