AURORA – Last year, Ken Sawyer watched as an unfamiliar pickup truck sat parked for a long period of time near his house on Old Airline Road.
Curious, Sawyer went and spoke to the driver. It turned out he was a construction worker working on First Wind’s Bull Hill wind farm, and Sawyer asked him what he was doing.
“He said, ‘I’m texting my wife on Facebook,’” Sawyer recalled. Asked why he was doing that particular activity there, the worker gestured to a nearby communications tower and explained he hadn’t been able to get a signal at the work site miles away.
Sawyer’s story illustrates that although First Wind has yet to build anything in Aurora – Bull Hill is located to the south in Township 16, and another wind farm proposed by the company would also be located in unorganized territory – its presence has been felt in the town of 114 residents.
Monday night, Sawyer and a dozen other people – some of them Aurora residents, and others from out of town – gathered at the Town Hall for a public hearing. The topic was a proposed zoning change that would significantly increase the amount of land available for commercial development in town.
The proposal, according to town officials, came about after First Wind expressed an interest in expanding into Aurora. They said if the zoning change is approved, however, it would do more than just benefit the company.
“This change will better define and conform to the current and historical use of the area along the Old Route 9 corridor,” town officials wrote in a letter to residents notifying them of the proposal.
Dave Fowler, director of development for Boston-based First Wind, said the company wants to build a 5,000-square-foot maintenance and operations building in Aurora on land it would lease from Selectman Donald Jordan.
Fowler said about a half-dozen people would work at the building. There would be some tractor-trailer traffic, he said, as well as deliveries from UPS and FedEx. Fowler has previously said the delivery companies will not make the eight-mile trip over dirt roads to the company’s Bull Hill operations center.
No one in attendance at Monday’s hearing disputed that First Wind’s project could be a boost to Aurora.
“We need something here,” said Planning Board Chairman Gary Goddard. “The town’s dying out.”
“I hope they do come here,” said Sawyer, noting the project would bring in tax revenue.
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