RUMFORD – After failing twice to pass a wind ordinance, voters on Nov. 8 passed the third try in two years for a wind ordinance quite easily.
Voters approved the measure by 1,137 to 465, with 50 ballots left blank on the question.
The town’s first proposed wind ordinance, which many believed to be too restrictive, was defeated in November 2010. The second one, thought to be too liberal, was defeated in June.
This third ordinance swung back toward the first proposal in that Town Manager Carlo Puiia said last month that he didn’t believe it would allow any wind projects using current technology.
Ironically, a straw poll was taken, whereby 557 voters said, “I support having wind power in Rumford,” while 479 citizens said, “I do not support having wind power in Rumford.”
On the poll, 140 said the ordinance was sufficient, 65 said it was too restrictive, 41 said it was not restrictive enough, and 94 voted none of the above.
The ballot vote, however, wasn’t for or against wind power. It was a vote on how Rumford governs a wind energy facility if one were to be built in town. A “yes” vote to approve the ordinance allowed local regulation on wind towers. A “no” vote would have allowed state regulation on wind towers, using Maine Department of Environmental Protection wind project laws.
The purpose of this ordinance is to establish standards for the construction of and operation of wind energy facilities. The ordinance:
* Restricts nighttime sounds from turbines to 40 decibels and daytime sounds to 50 decibels. Forty decibels is the equivalent of a soft whisper at 5 feet away, while 50 decibels is equivalent to normal spoken voice.
* Gives the Planning Board 90 days to review a project.
* Requires inspections, an operational license, enforcement of a violation agreement provision, and pre-blast surveys.
* Requires a 4,000 foot setback from non-participating property owners instead of 5,280 feet.
* Restricts blade flicker to no more than 12 hours a year instead of 10 hours annually.
* Carries no blade glint standard, but the developer must submit a sample of non-reflective paint to be used on the blades.
* Requires no sound study procedures and no mitigation waiver financial disclosure.
* Ensures Planning Board approval of the application following a public hearing in 90 instead of 120 days.
* Limits wind turbine height to 450 feet instead of 400 feet.
* Requires 50 percent decommissioning up front and 12.5 percent annually for two to five years instead of 100 percent up front.
* Allows 12 months for the project phasing plan instead of six months.
* Includes a community benefits provision.
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