May 2, 2012

Peru wind committee seeks to extend moratorium

Tom Standard, Special to the Sun Journal, 2 May 2012

PERU – The status of the moratorium on industrial wind power development was the major concern of the Wind Power Committee Tuesday night.

Because the original 180-day moratorium ordinance specified that it was retroactive, there were questions about whether to count the days from the retroactive date or the Nov. 8 date of the vote. If the count is from the date of the vote, the moratorium expires on Thursday, May 3.

The ordinance permits selectmen to make 180-day extensions to the moratorium by a majority vote. If the moratorium has expired, a vote of the townspeople is needed to reinstate it.

The committee thought selectmen should call a special meeting to extend the moratorium by May 3.

Selectmen have favored putting the question to the voters in the June 12 election.

Tim Holland, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, agreed to call a special meeting of the selectmen to discuss their options. The meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Town Office.

Committee member Rick Childs proposed that selectmen extend the moratorium and leave the question on the warrant for a town vote. He pointed out that no one was likely to challenge their actions, but if they did, one of the actions would be upheld.

It was agreed that a “straw vote” ballot asking if townspeople favor industrial wind power farms in Peru would be handed out with the official ballots at the June 12 election. Using a separate unofficial ballot avoids conflicting opinions on the proper wording of the question if it were in the official ballot.

There was concern that if a wind-power developer presented a proposal to the town while it did not have a moratorium or a Wind Power Ordinance in effect, the relatively lax state rules would prevail.

Committee member Wayne Moore said there was a decision of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that prevented such action for 45 days after a moratorium expired. Holland said this would protect the town until the town vote.

EDP Renewables North America is holding an open house May 22 to promote wind power development.

Committee members expressed concern that the company would present misleading information to the townspeople.

EDP Renewables North America LLC of Houston, Texas, received a permit in October 2011 to place a meteorological test tower off Black Mountain Road near the Sumner town line. The company is considering building possibly 25 to 35 turbines, a representative told the committee this year.

Sumner resident Ingrid Erickson said residents there are getting misleading letters on the eve of voting on an industrial wind power ordinance.

Childs said that Roxbury is finding out that large reductions in taxes only last a couple of years until the state and school adjust for the increased tax base. The state will then reduce its contributions to the town and the schools will raise the town’s share of school cost, he said.

Erickson said Maine Revenue Services would send a representative to a public hearing to clear up misunderstandings on the real tax impact of wind farms.

There will be a public hearing 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, in the old Peru Elementary School to discuss wind power.

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