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Debate continues over proposed Rumford wind ordinance  

Credit:  By Terry Karkos, Staff Writer, Sun Journal, www.sunjournal.com 13 June 2011 ~~

RUMFORD – Selectman Jeff Sterling’s recent rewrite of the defeated wind ordinance and the Board of Selectmen’s subsequent additions will go before town meeting voters on June 14.

Authors of the first proposal and Selectmen Greg Buccina and Jeremy Volkernick claim the new ordinance caters to wind developers and won’t protect the town.

They are asking voters not to accept it, saying it needs to be reworked.

The new proposal’s backers say otherwise, that it allows and regulates such development, and is more stringent than the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s rules.

Seeking a compromise in April and to expedite the document onto the June town meeting warrant, Sterling hacked the 45-page defeated proposal – widely regarded as a permanent moratorium on wind power – down to 26 pages.

Among the items removed were:

* Required operational licenses and anything pertaining to such, which Sterling and Selectmen Brad Adley and Mark Belanger considered duplicative and unnecessary.

* Definitions for Background Sound, C-Weighted Sound Level, Good Utility Practice, Qualified Independent Acoustical and Spectrum Management consultants, and Sound.

* Sound modeling, standards and enforcement procedures. These were replaced with a simplified version allowing no more than 45 decibels during nighttime and no more than 55 decibels during daytime at protected locations. Both are 5 decibels more than the first ordinance.

* Sound-limit language and distances for low-frequency and audible sounds.

* Protections that required the Planning Board to evaluate the developer’s risk assessment plan and to require a surety fee to cover damage. However, the applicant is still required to pay for any damage to public ways.

* Requirements for signal interference and blade glint, and a shadow flicker study. Blade glint is allowable in the new ordinance.

* A requirement for turbines to be inspected after construction is completed but before becoming operational.

* Requiring an applicant to set aside money to cover the town’s cost of enforcing ordinance violations and a site permit application fee of $2,500 plus $100 a turbine.

* Violations, complaints, penalties and appeals. Instead, these will be governed by Rumford’s site plan ordinance

* Requirements for pre- and post-construction sound measurements and studies.

Additions include:

* Definitions of Protected Location and Short Duration Repetitive Sounds.

* Exempting developers from providing any financial details between developers and landowners when filing mitigation waivers.

Among the changes from the first ordinance are:

* Reducing from 90 to 45 days the time in which the Planning Board must deem an application complete or incomplete and seek more information by notifying the developer in writing.

* Requiring the Planning Board to conditionally approve or disapprove applications within 60 instead of 120 days of a public hearing.

* Appealing decisions of the board go before the Rumford Board of Appeals instead of Oxford County Superior Court in Paris.

* Developers must identify all adjacent properties and natural and habitat areas within 3,000 feet of wind turbines instead of 5,280 feet.

* 3,000 feet as minimum safety setback from turbines to structures instead of a mile, and 3,000 feet from turbines to scenic or special resources instead of 2,500 feet.

* Increasing the total turbine height from 400 to 450 feet.

* Requiring applicants to file a blasting plan with the code enforcement officer.

* Setting limits for sounds generated via construction as opposed to blasting.

* Allowing no more than 24 hours of shadow flicker annually instead of no more than 10 hours annually.

* Motor vehicle access points to wind farms do not have to be gated.

* Applicants are given 10 years to get decommissioning monies in place instead of the first day.

* The operational license fee was reduced from $1,000 to $250.

Source:  By Terry Karkos, Staff Writer, Sun Journal, www.sunjournal.com 13 June 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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