INDUSTRY – Citing possible noise or falling debris, town officials are proposing an ordinance that would mandate a buffer zone around any future wind power projects.
The town will hold a second public hearing to review the proposed wind power ordinance at 7 tonight at the Town Hall. The proposed ordinance would mandate a buffer zone from property lines around wind power projects proportional to the size of the turbine and will be voted on March 9 at the annual Town Meeting.
Dan Maxham, chairman of the Industry Planning Board, said the proposal is not inspired by any pending wind projects, but is a proactive measure to set guidelines. Maine has 11 operational wind farms. The only one in Franklin County, where Industry is located, is in Kibby Township.
Code enforcement officer Tom Marcotte said the buffer zone would protect residents from noise and any debris that could come from a wind turbine.
According to the proposed ordinance, the buffer required varies with the height of the turbine.
Wind turbines 200 to 300 feet tall would need a 5,000-foot buffer; turbines 100 to 199 feet tall, a 2,000-foot buffer; and turbines less than 100 feet tall, a 1,000-foot buffer.
Roof-mounted turbines with an output of less than a half-kilowatt and a sound output of less than 30 decibels would need a buffer zone 1.5 times the turbine height.
The proposal also calls for insurance.
If a wind turbine project is large enough to require a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, the developer would have to provide the town proof of $3 million in liability insurance.
Developers would be allowed to negotiate with neighbors for land rights if they don’t have enough space to create a buffer zone. For example, if a developer wanted to build a wind turbine 4,500 feet from the nearest property line but needed a 5,000-foot buffer zone, the developer could enter an agreement with the property owner and pay a fee to count 500 feet of the neighbor’s property as part of the zone.
Last year, voters overwhelmingly approved a six-month moratorium on wind energy projects at the annual Town Meeting, with only one resident voting against it. The moratorium was created to give the community time to develop an ordinance to regulate wind energy projects.
The wind ordinance draft was proposed by the Wind Power Ordinance Committee, which researched wind power and reviewed research by a consulting firm hired by the town to study wind turbines and possible effects locally, according to Marcotte.
Marcotte said Industry residents who oppose wind development projects have been worried since New Vineyard, which borders the town to the northwest, unanimously passed strict rules in 2011 making it nearly impossible to develop wind power projects in that town. Industry residents are concerned that developers will move their projects to Industry instead, he said.
The issue will be voted on at the annual Town Meeting, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 9.
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