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Proposed Dixfield wind ordinance up for public heairng

DIXFIELD – Residents will have a chance at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, to comment on a proposed Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.

The public hearing takes place in the community room of Dirigo High School.

The ordinance was devised by Selectmen Norine Clarke and Steve Donahue using similar ordinances from other towns, as well as applying specific needs for Dixfield.

Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass. has proposed building about a dozen turbines on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridgeline. The project is named TimberWinds.

Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky said questions and comments will be taken from the floor.

Selectmen will then take those comments and decide what the next steps would be, if any.

Residents will vote on the document from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 12 at the American Legion.

The 30-page proposed ordinance stipulates turbines must be 4,000 feet from property lines and regulates the level of noise allowed during daytime and nighttime hours, and plans for decommissioning and land restoration once the life development ceases operation.

Skibitsky said the ordinance has been reviewed by the town’s attorney, and few changes were made since the last time voters considered a wind turbine ordinance. He said the level of decibels has been reduced to 42 during the nighttime hours, down from 45. This change reflects the same reduction recently modified by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The allowable daytime decibels is 55.

He said the ordinance was created to give the town some local regulation. If it is turned down, then the proposed project could still go ahead under the more generic regulations of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Some have objected to the establishment of a wind turbine project, citing noise and flicker effects, and the changes it would make to the ridgeline’s scenery.

Skibitsky said he expects the project to be challenged in court once it receives DEP approval.

Because of that, he said construction likely will not begin until 2015. He said Patriot Renewables is expected to submit its application to the DEP by the end of this year or early next. It would then take about a year for review and approval.

He called the town’s proposed ordinance neutral, fair and balanced.

“The selectmen realize what a good project this is. It will stabilize the tax base and a lot of good would benefit the majority of people,” he said.