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Rumford discusses limitations and benefits for wind projects

RUMFORD – Concerns over possible litigation with limiting the number of wind turbines and the effect wind projects have on real estate were discussed at another wind power ordinance workshop Monday night.

Selectman Jeff Sterling said he believed limiting turbines was new territory for wind ordinances.

“I’ve done a lot of research on other towns ordinances and haven’t been able to find anything about limiting turbines,” Sterling said.

He suggested the town limit projects to 25 turbines, based on projects he has seen in the past.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said he talked with the town attorney concerning the issue and was advised the town needed to have a justifiable reason to limit the amount of turbines for a project.

Albert Aniel stressed the importance of limiting turbines to protect the landscape and real estate value of the area.

Puiia added that once one turbine is placed on a ridge it negates the point of ruining the scenic aspect.

Selectman Greg Buccina said he was concerned over litigation concerning limiting turbines, especially for aesthetic purposes, which may cause an ordinance to be thrown out in a court case.

“This may be why we aren’t seeing this in other wind ordinances,” Buccina said.

Selectman Brad Adley said he believed a limit was not needed.

“I think if we do our due diligence with the property and sound setbacks the ordinance would already limit the number of turbines,” he said.

The group agreed to add language that would limit the number of turbines to 25 and acquire a legal opinion on the matter.

Community benefits given to the town from a wind farm developer were also debated.

Buccina said he believed language should be inserted into the ordinance stating wind turbines would produce electricity for the schools and municipal buildings in town.

“I think we should do this and pass the savings on to the taxpayer,” he said.

Sterling suggested leaving the language vague on community benefits and allow future boards to negotiate any deals.

“What we may want today may not be what we need tomorrow,” Sterling said.

Adley agreed with Sterling and said he was not willing to bind a future board to a set of agreements on benefits.