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New Vineyard unanimously passes wind power ordinance

NEW VINEYARD – Residents held the annual town meeting on the cramped first floor of Smith Hall, moving quickly through the warrant with minimal discussion.

Typically, New Vineyard holds meetings on the second floor, which has a large room and rows of folding chairs. A resident in a wheelchair arrived, however, and town officials said the meeting had to be held on the first floor, which is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Residents moved tables out of the dining area on the first floor to set up chairs, with many residents spilling into the kitchen, foyer and other adjoining rooms of the downstairs.

Voters moved quickly through the budget articles, many of which had been flat funded in an attempt to keep costs down. Some increases did prompt discussion; a $9,000 increase to the snowplowing account and a $500 increase for an assistant clerk, but residents passed the articles by wide margins. The overall budget is up roughly 1.5 percent over current spending.

Selectmen Board Chairwoman Fay Adams was reelected to a three-year term, running unopposed in nominations from the floor. Also reelected was Road Commissioner Earl Luce, Jr., planning board members Jon Cavanaugh, Patty Knapp and Chair Richard Hargreaves, as well as Brent Laflin as an alternate. Another alternate position remains open, and will be filled by the board of selectmen.

The Wind Energy Facility Ordinance passed by unanimous vote, representing the conclusion of months of work by the planning board since the town enacted a wind power moratorium in 2010. It’s based on Phillips’ ordinance, which uses a formula developed by an acoustic engineer to help create setbacks for wind power turbines. Planning board and selectmen members both have tweaked the ordinance, with an eye toward making it fit the needs of New Vineyard.

Also in attendance was Rep. Russell Black (R – Wilton), who presented the family of Paul Heath with a legislative sentiment. Heath, who died last year, was the town’s postmaster, selectman and a firefighter.