DIXFIELD – The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 Monday evening to remove one of its amendments to the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance.
Residents originally approved an ordinance in November 2012 to regulate wind development. At the beginning of 2013, selectmen voted to have the Planning Board strengthen the regulations.
The Planning Board brought its recommendations to selectmen, who made revisions and put it on the November 2014 ballot. The article called for repealing the original ordinance and adopting the amended version. Voters rejected the revised law by a vote of 553-567.
The board then voted 4-1 to take the Planning Board’s original draft and made two amendments. The latest version will go to voters on the June 10 ballot.
Chairman Scott Belskis, Dana Whittemore, Hart Daley and Norman Mitchell voted to remove the amendment; Mac Gill voted against.
The amendments included decommissioning costs paid 100 percent upfront by a wind developer and a low-frequency sound limit of 50 decibels post-construction, not including contribution from other ambient sounds, for properties a mile or more away from state highways or other major roads, and 55 decibels for properties closer than a mile from such roads.
Selectman Dana Whittemore, who made a motion at the previous wind ordinance workshop to approve the low-frequency sound limit amendment, said he would withdraw his original motion so the amendment could be removed from the ordinance.
“I’ve looked at the amendment and read about infrasound, and I’d like to rescind my motion so we can move forward with this,” Whittemore said. “I’m comfortable with what the Planning Board did in their original ordinance. I reread what they wrote in there, talked with some other Planning Board members, and it protects enough of what I want protected without the amendment being in there.”
The Planning Board wrote in its original draft that no wind turbine “shall be located so as to generate post-construction sound levels that exceed 35 decibels at night, or 45 decibels during the day anywhere in the town beyond the boundaries of the project parcel.”
At a 2014 meeting, the board voted to reduce the 45 decibels to 42 decibels.
Resident Susan Holmes said she spoke to a wind company representative who said if the ordinance limited the post-construction sound levels to 35 decibels at night, there would be “no wind development in Dixfield.”
“I’m not bantering back and forth,” Whittemore said. “I’ve made my motion. I’m not letting a third party write the ordinance. It’s in place. The motion has been made.”
Town Manager Carlo Puiia reminded selectmen that the Planning Board had originally recommended 45 decibels during the day.
“I thought I’d mention this, because if you wanted to approve the Planning Board’s draft as they originally wrote it, without amendments, the post-construction sound levels during the day would be at 45 decibels instead of 42.”
Whittemore said he would go with 45 decibels.
Selectman Mac Gill told the board he still felt the ordinance was an anti-wind ordinance.
“This is what the town already voted down,” Gill said. “I feel like we’re just delaying, delaying and delaying and hoping they’ll go away. I’m going to still vote against this.”
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