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Woodstock voters OK wind ordinance by slim margin

WOODSTOCK – Voters approved a commercial wind energy facility ordinance at Monday night’s annual town meeting by a vote of 48-44.

Town Manager Vern Maxfield said discussion on Article 9, which asked voters to approve a wind facility ordinance that has been in the works for more than a year, was “contentious” among voters and ended up “passing by a slim margin.”

“Regulations right now are already tight,” Maxfield explained, “but the ordinance states that there must be a one mile setback, which precludes most of the town.”

Maxfield said, “The town, as a whole, was not against wind turbines and a majority of them thought a wind ordinance would be good for Woodstock.”

Voters also approved $15,000 to be raised and appropriated for improvements to the Lake Christopher Dam. The warrant originally asked voters to approve $20,000, but Maxfield said selectmen decided that reducing it to $15,000 would not have an effect on the improvements.

Voters declined to raise and appropriate $1,596 to help support Bethel’s Mollyockett Day. The request was a first by the Bethel Chamber of Commerce.

Maxfield said there was “a lot of emotion in regards to the article” and it was overwhelmingly defeated.

“One selectmen proposed a lesser amount, and the other two selectmen didn’t get involved,” Maxfield said. “Ultimately, the article failed to pass.”

Maxfield said all of the social service requests were approved, including $2,700 for Community Concepts, $2,000 for Mahoosuc Kids and $1,226 to the American Red Cross.

In municipal elections, Selectman Ron Deegan, SAD 44 Director Julie Davis and library trustees Marta Clements and Jane Mills were re-elected. They were unopposed.

Maxfield said the town meeting was moderated by Steve Wight of Newry and lasted two hours and 52 minutes. Other than the wind ordinance and the Mollyockett Day articles, everything else passed without much discussion, he said.