SUMNER – A June 6 date has been set for the people of Sumner to decide whether to institute a temporary ban on wind farms.
The selectmen unanimously accepted a recommendation from the Planning Board on Tuesday that a special town meeting be held to vote on a six-month moratorium for wind farms.
Members of the planning board said that the six-month delay will give the town time to draft a wind farm ordinance, which would establish rules for any wind farm project in Sumner.
The issue arose as a result of a proposal from Blue Sky Energy, an international renewable energy company based in California, to construct five wind turbines on top of Mount Tom.
Planning Board members stated that such an undertaking could have a positive effect on the town’s finances, and produce an accompanying decrease in property tax rates, if done properly. However, in what it described as a seven-week research process, the board also found that failure to properly plan could give rise to a number of negative effects on Sumner’s residents, including decreased property values, health problems as a result of excessive noise, and environmental degradation to the area around the turbines.
Instituting a moratorium and taking the time to draft an ordinance, the Planning Board argued, would allow the town to institute rules which encourage positive effects and limit negative ones.
Tom Standard, director of Emergency Management, and Sumner Fire Chief Bob Stewart both stated their support for a moratorium. Both expressed the opinion that public safety personnel were not trained in addressing the types of emergencies that could result from a mountain-top wind farm project.
The special town meeting to consider the moratorium will take place at 7 p.m on June 6, and will be accompanied by an information session on the potential effects of a wind farm.
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