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Local ballot questions for Peru still awaiting tally

PERU – As of midnight Tuesday, the results for the local ballot questions had not been released.

There were several ordinances, including one that would place stricter regulations on wind development.

The wind ordinance was drafted by the Industrial Wind Energy Ordinance Committee after EDP Renewables North America LLC, of Houston, Texas, announced it was considering building 25 to 35 turbines in Peru. The company received a permit in October 2011 to place a meteorological test tower off Black Mountain Road near the Sumner town line.

According to the ordinance, the purpose of the regulations are to “protect the health, safety and general welfare” of Peru residents by “establishing reasonable and uniform regulations for the development of industrial wind energy facilities.”

Committee Chairman Jim Pulsifer said he and the committee did what the townspeople directed them to do, which was “write a very strong ordinance that would make it very hard to bring wind turbines here.”

Pulsifer added that they also made sure everything they wrote in the ordinance would be defensible in court. He said many times, companies will find ordinances too restrictive and bring a lawsuit against the town.

“We think the ordinance could stand up to anything in court, if it came to that,” Pulsifer said. “It’s all you can do. You do the best you can and put it out there.”

Normally, if a town doesn’t draft their own ordinance, the Department of Environmental Protection guidelines would regulate wind development. According to selectmen in previous meetings, a major difference between the ordinance being drafted by the Wind Ordinance Committee or the DEP is that under DEP guidelines there are no provisions for handling residents’ complaints.

If the ordinance didn’t pass, Pulsifer said “the Wind Committee would get back together and try to find what areas need to be fixed,” adding that it would never get to the point where the town would have to rely on the Department of Environmental Protection guidelines.

Another question on the ballot was whether or not to pass an ordinance that would allow citizens to remove an elected official from office. The ordinance, which was drafted by resident Tammy Ferland, states that if residents believe that a municipal official has failed to “appropriately carry out duties and responsibilities of the office,” engaged in disreputable conduct or been convicted of a crime or felony, they can begin the process of recalling the official.

Ferland said she first came up with the idea for the ordinance about three months ago.

“The town of Peru has no charter,” Ferland said, explaining that an ordinance is the only way now that residents can remove an elected official from office for not carrying out their duties properly.

Ferland wanted to clarify that the recall ordinance does not pertain to just selectmen.

“That’s a misconception I’ve heard from people,” Ferland said. “That’s not the case. The ordinance allows for the recall of any elected official, not just selectmen.”

If the recall ordinance were to be voted down, she would consider redrafting the ordinance and trying again, but only “if there’s not too big of a gap.” She said she would consider dropping the ordinance only if the town brought in a charter committee.

The other questions on the ballot included: whether to keep the Secretary to the Board of Selectmen position as full-time and appointed by the Board of Selectmen; whether the town of Peru should take $5,000 from the surplus to complete the roof and entry door projects at the Town Office; and whether the town should pass an ordinance that would allow the electronic sign on the side of the Fire Station to change messages.