EDDINGTON, Maine – Residents in town discussed the wind energy facilities ordinance for about 20 minutes, with people speaking passionately for and against the 35-page draft that is one of the strictest in the state, and then residents resoundingly endorsed the measure.
“We should be looking at any way possible to do something that is renewable,” resident Richard Bowden said to start off the conversation before the vote was taken.
The ordinance is “so restrictive that nobody in their right mind would consider” building wind turbines in town, he said.
Resident Bruce Pratt responded by saying that the town needs a strong ordinance to protect itself.
“This ordinance is a great one,” he said. “I’ve read it three times. If we don’t have an ordinance then the state rules apply. State rules were drawn up so the big guys can make money.”
Pratt also said the ordinance, like all ordinances in town, can be amended if needed.
“If it doesn’t work and it’s too restrictive, we can vote to change it,” he said.
Residents enacted a wind energy moratorium at last year’s town meeting, and the selectmen extended it to give planning board members time to work on the ordinance. Planners started working on the draft ordinance 21 months ago.
“Today is March 22, and the moratorium expires on March 30,” Susan Dunham-Shane, planning board vice chairwoman, told the crowd of nearly 130 residents.
Of the residents at the meeting, only a dozen voted against enacting the new wind energy facilities ordinance
The new ordinance has a very strict wind turbine setback of one mile from homes, businesses, schools and churches, which is more than three times what the state requires.
The wind ordinance also requires wind turbines to operate with sound levels that do not exceed 40 dBA at night and 50 dBA during the day anywhere within a mile of the facility.
The wind ordinance is restrictive, but it includes a mitigation waiver process that allows developers and landowners to work together on potential wind projects, planning board Chairman Tom Vanchieri told residents.
“They have to negotiate with the landowners who are going to be affected,” he said.
The mitigation waivers would have to be in writing and filed with the planning board and recorded in the Penobscot County Register of Deeds, the ordinance states.
Residents at the annual town meeting also endorsed the 2011-12 budget. The municipal budget is $951,591, which is $20,458 more than this year’s. The budget includes:
— $24,790 for general government, a $1,390 increase.
— $274,058 for administrative salaries and expenses, a $3,301 increase.
— $196,500 for highways, unchanged from last year.
— $266,380 for protection, a $12,562 increase.
— $129,483 for human services, an $868 increase.
— $5,000 for unanticipated or emergency expenses.
— Moving $405,000 in revenue-sharing and homestead reimbursement funds to reduce the tax commitment, a decrease of $10,000.
— $56,012 for the municipal hall bond payment.
The preliminary budget does not include the Penobscot County tax or the SAD 63 budget
amount, which will be established later this year and will be part of the final municipal budget determined in June.
During local elections held Monday, incumbent town Selectmen Joan Brooks, with 88 votes, and Donn Goodwin, with 102 votes, both earned another three-year term on the board, beating out newcomer Michael Shepherd, who took in 81 votes.
Jeffrey Thurlow, who ran unopposed for a three-year term on the SAD 63 board of directors, tallied 132 votes and captured the seat, and Donald MacKenzie, with 97 votes, beat Dustin Rath, who took in 23 votes, for the vacant two-year school board seat.
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