- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Dorchester to talk wind farms

Dorchester – Town Meeting voters on Tuesday will be polled on whether or not the town should allow an industrial wind power facility in future years.

The article has the sole purpose of gathering information from townspeople, and it is coupled with a second article that proposes town boards be granted control over such a decision.

Currently, large projects such as the construction of wind turbines would only need state approval.

“This would protect our town from corporations working to use our land for industrial projects, such as wind farms,” states the petitioned warrant article, which would establish a community bill of rights ordinance.

Selectboard Chairman Sherman Hallock said developers have talked about setting up a wind facility in Dorchester, but that no one has contacted the town yet. Dorchester could be part of the so-called Spruce Ridge Wind Farm spanning five towns, including Canaan and Orange. A company filed an application for the project with the Federal Aviation Administration in November.

“The wind project is a big issue in town, but the Selectboard at this point hasn’t been required to make any kind of decision,” Hallock said. “We are expecting that they are going to come.”

He added though: “(The decision) is kind of something that is out of our hands.”

Dorchester officials have proposed a level-funded $434,000 budget, which reflects a decrease in spending of about $3,500 from last year’s. One additional spending article to extend the town clerk’s hours would add $10,400 to the proposed budget.

The current combined tax rate in Dorchester is $19.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Residents with a property assessed at $250,000 pay an annual tax bill of $4,788. The town portion of the tax rate is projected to stay the same, but school taxes are expected to rise, Hallock said. The proposed tax rate was unavailable on Friday.

“There is nothing earth shattering on our warrant this year,” Hallock said.

Officials at the town floor meeting on Saturday will ask voters to allocate money into two previously established capital reserve funds. The funding would come from surplus money in the last budget cycle, which ended on Dec. 31, and would not impact the tax rate.

Article 8 asks for $1,000 to be added to a reserve fund for the purpose of buying and developing land for a town cemetery, while Article 9 asks for a $5,000 appropriation to the highway equipment maintenance fund.

The purpose of a capital reserve fund is to lessen the blow of a large purchase by setting aside smaller amounts of money incrementally.

Voters will also decide whether or not to extend the town clerk’s hours to an extra five to 10 hours per week, plus an expanded Saturday hour at month’s end. To do so, the town seeks $10,400.

Voters will be asked to appropriate about $7,500 from surplus funds for the second of three payments to a company that is producing digital parcel maps for the town. Voters approved the same amount of money for the project last year.

The first six articles on the warrant will be acted upon through Australian ballot on Tuesday. Five of the six articles will update language in the Town Land Use Regulation Ordinance, which was last amended in 1991. The Planning Board and town attorney recommend the amendments to sections of the plan.

Selectboard Vice Chairman Arthur Burdette is retiring from the board, and there’s a contested race for his seat. According to filings at the town office, Steven Bjerklie will square off against Larry Walker Jr. during ballot voting.

Public school students in Dorchester go to Canaan Elementary School, Indian River School and Mascoma Valley Regional High School.

School district articles will take place by Australian ballot voting on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Dorchester Town Hall.