CANAAN – Officials in Canaan are ready for wind energy development or adult entertainment proposals, thanks to a more-than-2-to-1 vote to that effect Saturday.
After a lengthy debate, voters at the annual Town Meeting decided to be prepared in the event a developer eyes the Somerset County town for either proposal by adopting detailed ordinances to regulate them.
By a 51-23 vote, they adopted a Wind Energy Facility Ordinance that Planning Board proponents described as “technical.” Concerns were raised that the ordinance was too detailed and possibly onerous to local citizens who simply want to erect a personal wind turbine at their homes. Several people spoke in favor of the proposal but expressed regret there was no means to amend it to address “microturbines,” as opposed to large commercial wind-energy structures.
Voters were told that because the ordinance proposals were already published and posted, they could not be amended.
Some residents expressed concern that the vote might be interpreted as support for construction of wind turbines, but Planning Board member Joel Stetkis and others said it only protects the town against developers and any damage they might do to town roads or adjacent properties. In addition, the ordinance also addresses noise levels that would be permissible.
An Adult Entertainment Establishment Ordinance was enacted, 55-11, with little debate.
By similar votes, residents updated the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and adopted a dog control ordinance. The zoning ordinance brings the town into compliance with state regulations, and the dog ordinance establishes fees and penalties for dog owner violations to address the rising costs of impounding dogs.
They also approved a proposal to raise $5,000 toward the purchase of a former Grange hall to help a nonprofit group preserve it as the Canaan Farmers Hall. The group has organized as a nonprofit and plans to raise additional money to buy the historic hall from the Maine State Grange. Voters agreed the purchase was preserving part of the town’s heritage and would permit events to continue there as in the past. The nonprofit group sees the allocation of tax dollars as a show of support when it approaches other institutions to help fund the purchase.
Although attempts were made to decrease several accounts, few were successful. One successful such effort affected a proposal to fund 100 percent of town employees’ health insurance, reducing the amount to 65 percent, at $11,500. Voters supported requests to fund the Fire Department, funding for a new tanker, solid waste reduction and recycling, and another payment toward construction of a new library. In contrast to last year, voters gave social service agencies the amounts they requested after representatives of several agencies spoke to explain their services and need.
Municipal appropriations will be up $28,000 as a result of Saturday’s voting, but there was no indication of the effect on the current tax rate of $15.50 per $1,000 of property valuation, because the school assessment and the county tax are undetermined.