RUMFORD – Selectmen are considering limiting the number of turbines that wind developers can place in town – in projects well into the future.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick broached that issue during a discussion Thursday night on whether to reinstate a few pages of language requiring developers to have operational licenses.
The operational license language, which was in the first ordinance that was defeated in November, was stricken from the second ordinance because it was deemed redundant.
The second ordinance was defeated at town meeting in June, prompting the board’s self-imposed task of creating a third ordinance proposal.
During work on the second ordinance, Volkernick attempted to add language limiting the number of turbines in a project to five, but the majority nixed the idea.
Explaining his rationale Thursday night, Volkernick said he simply wants to learn whether turbines from the first wind project to be approved under a new ordinance will benefit taxpayers.
If so, he said, another wind developer could put in five turbines, if approved, and the benefits of that would also be weighed.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina agreed with the logic, but Selectman Jeff Sterling said limiting turbines should be a new section and not added to the operational license language.
He also said it might not be legal to limit developers to a certain number of turbines.
Resident and former longtime Selectman Jim Thibodeau agreed with Buccina and Volkernick. Thibodeau, who helped draft the first ordinance, said the operational license should contain language limiting the number of turbines.
“It’s worthy of a legal opinion,” he said.
Thibodeau likened the operational license to a driver’s license, saying it’s a means of gaining compliance if a wind developer, wind farm owner or turbines’ operation deviate from the town’s ordinance in a manner that’s prohibited.
He said if he breaks Maine driving laws, depending on the type of conviction, his license can be suspended or revoked.
Requiring an applicant to have an operational license and a site plan review permit would allow the town to revoke or suspend the license to gain compliance.
“I think the operational license is very important to have,” Thibodeau said.
Selectmen tabled a decision on the section until a future meeting, wanting to examine it in greater detail.
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