BINGHAM – A group of residents have submitted a petition to halt any wind power development until an ordinance can be created to lay out the ground rules for wind turbines.
First Selectman Steve Steward said the town will send the petition to the Maine Municipal Association to confirm its legitimacy. Residents had to gather 43 valid signatures, Town Clerk Jeanette Jacques said; they gathered slightly more than they needed.
Barbara Glunn, one of the residents who organized the petition, which was submitted Tuesday, said she hopes the 180-day moratorium will allow planning board members, selectmen and community members to develop an ordinance to establish setback limits and other rules surrounding wind power projects.
Boston-based First Wind plans to install about 50 turbines on hills on the outskirts of Bingham, extending into Mayfield and Blanchard townships.
“It isn’t anti-First Wind. It isn’t even anti-wind. It’s really to say there should be guidelines in place for how these things are constructed in town, where they’re placed,” Glunn said.
The petition requests a town meeting so that residents can answer the following question: “Shall the town vote to place a 180 day moratorium on wind facility development in Bingham to allow the planning board, selectman, and citizens of Bingham to develop a wind facility ordinance to ensure that, if wind facilities are proposed and approved, they will bring benefits to the whole town and not cause harm?”
Glunn said she’d like town officials and community members to work together to create the ordinance.
“This isn’t meant to usurp their authority in any way. I think we should all be working together to craft it,” she said. “I think the community should have a say in it.”
The ordinance may become useful if a contract is ever breached, she said; it could be used as a reference tool.
Steward said the planning board in the past discussed creating a wind development ordinance but felt it wasn’t needed because the windiest locations are in remote places in town.
“There are not too many places in Bingham that you can put wind towers that are going to be useful,” he said. “The majority of Bingham is in the valley.”
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