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Wind panel opts for state version

RUMFORD – Following a stern rebuking from Selectman Greg Buccina at Thursday night’s wind ordinance workshop, three other selectmen who sought to end work on the document discussed its issues at length.

More than 2.5 hours later, they came to a consensus for the most part on numbers to plug into the State Planning Office wind ordinance template from which they were working.

However, no action was taken. That must be done at a regular board meeting.

Selectman Jeff Sterling set the stage for Buccina’s angst, labeling the board’s previous workshop with Andrew Fisk of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection a “horrible” experience.

“I felt he was ambushed and asked questions he couldn’t possibly answer,” Sterling said.

He also accused the board of treating the wind power issue “so differently” than any other issue that’s come before the board.

“There’s a level of fairness that isn’t being achieved,” Sterling said.

He then said he would not take anything from the previously proposed wind ordinance that a majority of voters defeated in November.

Instead, he suggested putting the template – which Buccina previously labeled pro-wind – before voters in June.

Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley and Selectman Mark Belanger quickly agreed. Buccina, however, quickly blasted them.

“I think it’s a cop-out,” he said.

“I think that you’re just passing the buck, and I think that if we just go ahead and pass this watered-down ordinance, which was written by an administration in a pro-wind environment, that you’re doing a huge disservice to the citizens of this community.”

He said he did a lot of work prior to the meeting to work out compromises on the issues to minimize the board’s time.

“Again, I think this is a cop-out, and I’m very disappointed in that,” he said.

“I think that either way this goes, you guys are going to get what you want, because it was said at the last meeting, ‘Whatever we do with this, if it doesn’t get passed, then we fall back on the DEP (ordinance).’”

“I came here with a proposal tonight, you know, and I just can’t understand why I would want to have some company take my taxpayer dollars, blast away my mountainsides, create no jobs, and do nothing for my community, and save $73 of taxpayer money on a medium average house, and do nothing for this town, but destroy our infrastructure, and it just amazes me that you guys are willing to let them walk in here and do that,” Buccina said.

He then mentioned previous discussion on setbacks that he thought would be continued at Thursday’s meeting.

“But I guess if we’re really going to pass this thing, then there’s really no need for me to waste my time here,” he said.

“The majority of towns that have ordinances in place have done their homework and are willing to spend their time and do something for their citizens, because that’s what an ordinance is, to protect it.”

Later, both Adley and Belanger told Buccina that town mountains do not belong to Buccina or selectmen or the town, but to private landowners, and that selectmen shouldn’t be telling them what to do with their property.

Buccina lobbied for a 2,000-foot sound, safety and shadow flicker setback from a turbine to an occupied dwelling, but Sterling, Adley and Belanger disagreed.

After considerable discussion, they decided to investigate 2,000 feet for sound setbacks, but the trio wanted the safety setback at 150 percent of the size of the turbine blade at maximum height above a turbine.

They also bogged down on when a developer should fully fund decommissioning its wind farm. Buccina wanted it on day one of construction or within three to four years. The others wanted 15 years, although Sterling later proposed 10 years.

Buccina refused to budge despite being told by Belanger that he wasn’t being fair.

“We are being fair,” Buccina said.

“Are we doing this to any other industry?” Belanger shot back.

“It’s what other towns are doing to protect themselves,” Buccina said.

In the end, Sterling said, “For good or for bad, the cards have been laid on the table.”

“This has been the most productive discussion that we’ve had,” he said. “Not everybody’s going to like what we do, and that’s how it goes.”