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Debt, turbines on New Portland agenda  

Credit:  By Erin Rhoda, Staff Writer, Morning Sentinel, www.onlinesentinel.com 1 March 2012 ~~

NEW PORTLAND – Residents will vote whether to pay down debt, purchase a grader, usher in rules surrounding wind turbines, and make the town clerk position an appointed one at Town Meeting on Saturday.

The proposed 2012 budget of about $455,000 is about $6,000, or 1.4 percent, more than last year. Residents will begin the meeting at 9 a.m. in the community room of the fire station.

At elections from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, held at the fire station, they will pick one of two candidates for selectman and one of three candidates for town clerk.

Incumbent and current chairman of the board, Doug Archer, faces Polly MacMichael for one available selectman seat.

John Bertl, Donna Stout and Alicia Wills are seeking the town clerk position.

In addition to the total proposed budget amount of $454,716, town officials are proposing that voters take $110,500 from surplus and designated fund accounts to pay off loans for a firetruck and the town office construction.

Town Manager Stacie Rundlett said the selectmen are proposing two road projects for the summer and are letting residents decide which one to pursue: completing structural work to part of Hancock Pond Road or ditch and culvert work on New Portland Hill Road.

They are also asking residents to borrow up to $65,000 to purchase a grader.

Residents will vote whether to change the town clerk position from an elected to an appointed one, effective at elections in 2015.

There are currently no guidelines for the town clerk’s office hours, Rundlett said, so it has been difficult for residents to conduct business with the clerk in previous years.

Selectmen would have the authority to set the hours if it became an appointed position, she said. The clerk’s office is now open eight hours per week, while the rest of the week it is open 23 hours or more.

The town clerk currently serves for a three-year term. If the article passes on Saturday, it could not legally take effect until the current term runs out in 2015.

The town is also presenting a wind facility ordinance that would limit wind turbines to less than 200 feet in height and prohibit any that require lighting, according to the draft. Setbacks would be determined based on a formula that considers turbine height, sound levels and the number of turbines.

The proposed ordinance would require a developer to complete a shadow flicker study that examines the area within a two-mile radius of any turbine. It would prohibit turbine blades that glint in the sun.

An applicant would have to complete a visual impact study, and the town would decide whether the particular project would “occupy an area valued for its wilderness characteristics,” the proposal states.

The owner would be responsible for decommissioning the project and restoring the site within 12 months after the project ceases to generate electricity.

The town does not currently have a wind facility ordinance, and there are no anticipated turbine projects.

“Our town has the mindset it is better to be prepared than be caught off guard,” Rundlett said.

Source:  By Erin Rhoda, Staff Writer, Morning Sentinel, www.onlinesentinel.com 1 March 2012

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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