RUMFORD – Boston-based wind developer First Wind recently launched a campaign to gain voter approval of an expedited wind ordinance proposal.
The town meeting vote on the second such proposal happens on Tuesday, June 14.
It could well decide the future of wind in Rumford one way or the other, according to months of rhetoric from pro- and anti-wind advocates over the issue that has split the town and the Board of Selectmen who drafted the document.
The first proposal, which was widely believed to be a permanent moratorium on wind power, was defeated last November by a tally of 1,339 to 1,048.
The current proposal was expedited last month after Selectman Jeff Sterling gutted the defeated ordinance of much of its protective layers. Three of five board members then approved it.
Last week, residents received a flier paid for by First Wind and signed by eight Rumford residents, many of whom have publicly shared their pro-wind power sentiment.
The mailing can be found on First Wind’s new website pertaining to Rumford: www.WindForRumford.com.
“It was established by First Wind to inform residents of Rumford about the ordinance prior to the vote on June 14th,” Crystal Canney, First Wind consultant of Canney Communications in Portland, said Saturday by email.
The mailing urges recipients to “Say Yes to Wind Energy” and to approve what First Wind calls “a sensible ordinance to regulate wind energy in Rumford.”
It briefs Rumford’s struggle to create the ordinance, speaks to First Wind’s proposed $65 million project to place at least 12 turbines in town and touts economic benefits to be realized.
“Unlike the ordinance that was defeated last November, this ordinance will allow wind energy facilities but require compliance with reasonable guidelines for protecting public health and safety,” the flier states.
It says the ordinance has provisions that are stricter than state standards and it automatically incorporates more stringent standards adopted by Maine in the future.
“Approving the ordinance will enable us to get a closer look and a better understanding of the $65 million project by First Wind that has been stalled on the drawing board for the last two years,” the letter states.
It further states that the project must comply with the new ordinance if it is approved. It must also be OK’d by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Rumford Planning Board.
Speaking to the “major economic impact” of a wind project in the River Valley region, the letter listed the following benefits:
* Significant tax revenues for many years.
* State-required community benefits of at least $4,000 per turbine per year.
* The sustainability of “hundreds” of jobs during construction and creation of five to 10 permanent local jobs to operate the facility.
“Other communities in Maine are using similar wind generated revenues to fund robust, long-term economic development efforts to attract new businesses and employers and Rumford can do the same,” the flier states.
“The increased valuation can be sheltered to ensure that we do not lose state aid for our schools.”
It is signed by J. Arthur Boivin, a former fire chief and selectman; business owner Dan Richard; former selectman and state representative Rob Cameron and his wife, Louanne Cameron; local contractor Jeff Roy Sr.; and Rumford residents Vincent Caruso, Brian Mitchell and Henry Zinck.
Boivin said Friday that someone identifying themselves as from Bernstein Shur, a Maine and New Hampshire law firm, asked if he’d support the letter and sign it.
Boivin said sure to that and doing a radio commercial as well.
He then used contents from the letter as his comments at the May 26 public hearing on the ordinance.
“I do feel that Rumford is open for business if they pass this ordinance,” Boivin said. “We’ve got to start moving forward.”
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