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Sumner begins work on wind power ordinance

SUMNER – The Industrial Wind Power Ordinance Committee elected its chairman Tuesday night and discussed how to develop regulations for wind power projects in town.

Eleven of the 15 committee members were present along with three selectmen and six others.

A recent informal proposal to create a wind farm in Sumner led to the passage of a six-month moratorium on projects and a mandate to write an ordinance to regulate them.

Daniel Perron, chairman of the Planning Board, was elected chairman of the ordinance committee. He told members the first job was to determine how to write the ordinance, and that it needed to fit Sumner and its residents.

The committee reviewed Maine Municipal Association advice that the town could not prohibit wind farms, but had the power to regulate them. The MMA said that even though the state has a strong bias in favor of wind power, the town is under no obligation to support the state position.

Committee member Stephen Perry said, “Our job is to write an ordinance, but what is the goal of the ordinance?”

Committee member John Allen replied, “It is to protect the interest of the town.”

Consensus seemed to be that the physical health and financial well being of residents were major concerns.

Committee member Lana Pratt pointed out that the committee needs to know how residents feel about wind power. The retired school teacher and former SAD 39 director is active in the community.

Selectman Glen Hinckley reminded the committee that residents wanted informational meetings so they could have a part in developing the ordinance.

Committee members agreed that there was a need for public input and two members were appointed to work with the selectmen in setting up public meetings.

“If the town has no ordinance on wind power the town has no leverage over the industry and developers will be free to operate under state law,” Perry said.