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Rumford wind ordinance OK’d; Charter amendment fails  

Credit:  By Terry Karkos, Sun Journal, www.sunjournal.com 8 November 2011 ~~

RUMFORD – Third time’s a charm proved true Tuesday when a majority of voters overwhelmingly approved the third proposed wind ordinance in two years.

The tally was 1,137 “yes” to 465 “no,” Town Manager Carlo Puiia said. Fifty ballots were blank, meaning those voters didn’t select either answer.

The vote essentially kills any wind farms coming to Rumford until technology improves or the ordinance gets amended, he said.

“I guess it remains to be seen how this ordinance will affect our community, because we know now that First Wind has contacted me and said they were pulling out,” Puiia said.

When it first proposed building wind turbines atop Rumford hills two years ago, the Boston-based wind developer prompted moratoriums against such development to give the town time to draft an ordinance to regulate wind.

“So, I guess like I said, as far as development here for wind, it’s not in the foreseeable future,” Puiia said.

“That doesn’t mean they can’t possibly come here if the technology were to change and they could be able to meet the standards or, if in the future, the standards were to be changed. In other words, the ordinance can be amended.”

However, he said he doesn’t think the board will do so soon.

“I think they’ll accept the vote as it is,” Puiia said.

Rumford’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 Puiia said last month that he didn’t believe it would allow any wind projects using current technology.

But unlike the first two, selectmen included a straw poll with the third proposal to learn the rationale behind Tuesday’s balloting.

“What’s ironic is that the one that got the most votes was, ‘I support having wind power in Rumford,’” Puiia said.

That statement on the straw poll got 557 votes, whereas 479 opted for, “I do not support having wind power in Rumford,” he said.

He said 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.

Puiia said there were also 80 to 100 straw poll tallies of people voting for one of the choices twice, which means those must be sorted out to discern intent.

Tuesday’s 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.

The other straw poll question asked voters if they wanted selectmen to establish a charter commission. That was approved 836 “yes” to 581 “no.”

As for the second issue on the ballot, voters rejected a proposal to amend the Charter to allow selectmen to annually appoint nonresidents as town auditor, town attorney, code enforcement officer, plumbing inspector and sealer of weights and measures. The tally was 767 “yes” to 839 “no.”

Source:  By Terry Karkos, Sun Journal, www.sunjournal.com 8 November 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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