DIXFIELD – The Board of Selectmen on Monday continued discussing revisions to the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance, especially whether Sugarloaf Mountain, Webb River Falls and Colonel Holman Ridge should be included as scenic resources.
The ordinance was approved in 2012 and the revisions began in January 2013.
Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., approached Dixfield officials three years ago about constructing 13 wind turbines on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge. The corporation has been conducting research on the ridge, including wind tests, bird studies and environmental impacts.
The Planning Board completed revisions this month and met with selectmen to review them. Selectmen agreed the board did an admirable job with their recommendations, but said there were still issues they wanted to clear up before approving a final draft.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said he was placing discussion on the ordinance on the agenda in order to figure out what selectmen wanted to do with the recommendations.
“I think we had a constructive meeting last week with the Planning Board, and I’m sure this is not the last time that we’ll have this topic on the agenda. I know the plan is for you guys to have the ordinance ready for the November election, so if there’s anything you wish to discuss, you can do it now.”
Much of the board’s conversation centered around whether Sugarloaf Mountain, Webb River Falls and Colonel Holman Ridge should be included as scenic resources.
At the meeting with the Planning Board last week, Selectman Hart Daley said he noticed that the three scenic resources identified in the town’s Comprehensive Plan were not included in the Planning Board’s revised ordinance.
Planning Board Chairman Tom Child said attorney Kristen Collins, who has been helping revise the ordinance, believed Sugarloaf, Webb River Falls and Colonel Holman Ridge should not be included as a scenic resource because “you couldn’t define their exact location.”
Chairman Scott Belskis said Monday that he wanted to have a discussion with Collins about how she came up with that assessment.
Daley agreed with Belskis, saying he believes the town should contact “professionals” who may be able to figure out where the boundaries are for Dixfield’s scenic resources.
“There are so many mountains in the state of Maine that are recognized as mountains and have specific boundaries,” Daley said. “I disagree with her statements that there’s no way to figure out where the boundaries are for those resources.”
Daley pointed out that Sugarloaf, Webb River Falls and Colonel Holman Ridge are all in the Comprehensive Plan, and when the town attempted to edit the Comprehensive Plan to remove Colonel Holman Ridge as a scenic resource in 2010, it was rejected by voters.
“As far as I’m concerned, the ordinance has to be in line with the town’s Comprehensive Plan,” Daley said. “If people rejected removing one of the scenic resources a few years back, I can only imagine what would happen if they tried to remove all three scenic resources.”
Selectman Mac Gill said the best course of action would be to “amend the Comprehensive Plan to include the exact coordinates of the three scenic resources.”
The board asked Puiia about having Collins come to Dixfield to explain her reasoning behind certain revisions.
“I say that we make it a one-time thing and make it count,” Selectman Dana Whittemore said.
Puiia said that he would contact Collins and see if she was available for the Sept. 8 selectmen meeting.
In other business, Belskis said he wanted to organize a meeting of the Sign Committee that was formed in June.
At the June 23 selectmen meeting, Belskis brought up the idea of forming a committee to raise money for a new outdoor electronic sign to announce events.
Belskis said the Sign Committee would meet at 6 p.m. on certain Wednesdays.
Belskis and Whittemore agreed to serve on the committee, along with three volunteers from Dixfield.
Puiia said he would contact committee members to see which Wednesday would work best.
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