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Dixfield wind ordinance vote postponed until November

DIXFIELD β€“ Selectmen decided Monday night to postpone a vote on the proposed Wind Energy Facility Ordinance, which had been set for June 12, to Election Day on Nov. 6.

In the interim, selectmen will conduct a more in-depth study of tax-incentive financing projects in effect in towns with wind farms, and will learn more about the financial impact on the town of a multimillion-dollar project.

Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky said a series of public hearings may be held while selectmen are studying the effects of wind power.

He said selectmen want an accurate sense of how residents feel about wind power and they believe more people will go to the polls in November than in June.

β€œIt’s boiling down to a yes or no vote,” he said.

If a majority of residents vote for the proposed wind ordinance, that would be a yes and the project proposed by Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., would continue with its approval process. If not, then it will be assumed that residents do not want a wind farm in their town.

If the no vote wins, Skibitsky said, selectmen would set a moratorium on wind farm development while writing a much more restrictive wind ordinance that would be voted on at a later time.

Skibitsky and the board have said that they favor a wind farm in Dixfield.

A public hearing held on the proposed ordinance last week was attended by a majority of people who opposed wind development. And although that was part of the reason for withdrawing the ordinance from the June 12 election, Skibitsky said a lengthy discussion at Monday’s board meeting led to the decision that the board wanted a better sense of what the majority of residents want.

Engineers from Patriot Renewables have been studying, monitoring and conducting environmental impact studies for several years on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge where about 12 industrial turbines have been proposed.

In other matters, the board set a summer schedule for the town’s Public Works employees. Beginning immediately, they will work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday. This work schedule will be in effect until the Columbus Day weekend in October.

Selectmen also set a shortened regular board meeting schedule for the summer months. Meetings were set for 5 p.m., May 29, June 18, July 23 and Aug. 27.