Clifton wind farm development supporters defeat petition measure that would have increased turbine setbacks
CLIFTON, Maine – The first of two townwide votes on wind farm rules left the current wind turbine setbacks in place.
A Clifton Task Force on Wind petition question put before voters Tuesday that would have drastically increased setbacks was defeated, 230 to 173, according to election results provided by Town Clerk Cathy Jordan.
During the vote counting, “one from each side was in the room counting,” Jordan said, referring to opponents and proponents of wind energy in town.
With the local referendum, school budget referendum and state primaries, the town’s 12 vote counters worked until nearly midnight.
“It was 11:30 to 11:45 [p.m.] before we were done,” Jordan said.
Residents will head to the polls again on July 1 to cast ballots about enacting wind farm and other amendments to the land use code. Removing some portions of the 28-page wind farm ordinance and new sound restrictions near homes are proposed.
Planners approved the five-turbine Pisgah Mountain wind farm two years ago, but local Rebel Hill Road farmers Peter and Julie Beckford prevailed in a lawsuit against the town and project partners in December, when Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton found in their favor and said the planning board did not follow the Clifton Land Use Code.
Clifton Planning Board members have met every Wednesday since January to change the ordinance and address the Maine Business and Consumer Court judge’s concerns, chairman Eric Johns has said.
For example, Horton said, the land use ordinance requires pre-development ambient sound iso-contour maps, which planners waived as a requirement for the Pisgah Mountain project. Those submission requirements have been removed, Johns said.
The proposed land use code changes eliminate different day and night sound standards, making all the sound standards the same all the time, and it creates new sound limits of 45 decibels at property lines and 35 decibels within 100 feet of sensitive receptors such as homes, Johns said.
The 45 decibels is equivalent to “a quiet office or library or gentle waves on the shore,” and 35 decibels is “slightly above a bedroom or similar to rural areas at night,” the planning board chair has said.
The Pisgah Mountain developers, including Bangor resident Paul Fuller and his wife, Sandy Fuller, filed an appeal in January to the state’s highest court to overturn Horton’s decision. That decision is expected in the next six months.
The Fullers and Beckfords could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.
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