Developing zoning ordinances requires thoughtful consideration of competing interests and the creation of a “level playing field” for all citizens and businesses. That’s why preparation of zoning ordinances is properly the role of the local, elected Planning Board – and only the Planning Board. It is a clear conflict of interest to have any private developer write a zoning ordinance. It makes no sense. It is like changing the rules of baseball to allow the pitcher to call balls and strikes. However well-intentioned the developer, their bias is to write the zoning rules to serve their business model and not the public interest.
On March 11, Antrim voters will be asked to approve a zoning ordinance that was written by Antrim Wind Energy LLC. It is on the ballot by petition. It was not developed by the Antrim Planning Board. It did not go through the time-honored and extensive process of open discussion and debate that Antrim has always given to any major ordinance change. It just appeared full-blown in December, an ordinance unabashedly written by the developer and for the developer.
The full ordinance runs 11 pages. The ordinance itself will not appear on the ballot. Voters will be asked only to approve a summary paragraph by voting “yes” or “no.” If the majority says “yes,” a zoning district that both voters and the town’s Master Plan previously designated as off-limits for industrial development will immediately be open to the largest project in Antrim’s history.
It is just plain wrong to turn over writing of any zoning ordinance to any developer – ever. It sets a terrible precedent. It puts the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Antrim voters deserve more respect. On March 11, vote NO on the petitioned wind ordinance question.