May 13, 2011

Sumner considers wind farm moratorium

By Devin Conway, Advertiser Democrat, 12 May 2011

SUMNER – The Board of Selectmen in Sumner was asked to consider a moratorium on the installation of wind farms.

Planning Board members John Allen and Lawrence O’Rourke informed the board that they had held informal discussions with a national renewable energy company, Blue Sky Energy, regarding plans to install five 400-foot wind turbines on mountaintops in West Sumner.

There is currently no ordinance in Sumner to regulate the gathering of wind energy. O’Rourke and Allen suggested that the town institute a six-month moratorium preventing any approval of the turbine’s installation, so that an ordinance could be drafted to ensure that the town’s interests were protected.

O’Rourke said that several towns in Maine have gone forward without an ordinance, but that the Maine Municipal Association has recommended that one be instituted before any work is done to ensure that no harm came to either the locals or the value of their property.

People living near other wind farms have reported that noise levels from turbines have had an effect on their sleeping patterns and that proximity to a wind farm decreases property value. An ordinance could regulate noise from the turbines and their distance from home-owners.

“We can take six months to think it through carefully or we can knee-jerk react and make a decision,” said O’Rourke.

“If we want to go forward with it, we need to make sure that we can protect the citizens involved,” said Allen.

Selectman Glenn Hinckley, however, said that a moratorium was unnecessary. The issue has been discussed since a town meeting two years ago, when the town voted narrowly against a mountain-top tower to measure wind.

“I’m not in favor of a moratorium,” said Hinckley. “I think the town and planning board have had plenty of time.”

Whether to issue the moratorium is a question that will ultimately need to be addressed by a special town meeting on the subject, said officials.

The board agreed that a special town meeting was necessary, but no date was set. The board will next meet on May 24 at 7 p.m. in the Sumner Town Office.

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