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Dixfield residents speak to pros, cons of wind development at public hearing

DIXFIELD – More than 50 residents met Thursday evening at Dirigo High School to express their opinions on whether to approve a revised Wind Energy Facility Ordinance and repeal the prior ordinance.

Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., approached Dixfield officials three years ago about constructing a 20-megawatt wind turbine project on the Col. Holman Mountain ridge.

Residents approved a wind development ordinance in Nov. 2012, and in early 2013, selectmen voted to have the Planning Board strengthen it. The Planning Board brought its recommendations to selectmen, who made revisions and put the issue on the Nov. 2014 ballot. The article called for repealing the original ordinance and adopting the amended one. Voters rejected the revised law, 553-567.

The board subsequently voted 4-1 to take the Planning Board’s original recommendations and place its draft on the June 9 ballot.

One resident, who lives on Hidden Meadow Lane, said that she already has to look at the wind turbines located on Morrison Hill, which “looks like an airport.”

“I moved out there because I didn’t want to be on the road anymore, and now I’m facing this,” she said. “I don’t see these things doing anything for the town of Dixfield. It’d be one thing if we had a huge tax deduction, or if there was a lot of job creation, but I fail to understand what we’re supposed to get out of all of this.

“This is a project that shouldn’t affect just a few of us,” she added. “It should be affecting most of us.”

Former resident Dana Whittemore Sr. said that he had a very negative experience with wind power when he was attempting to sell his former home on Common Road.

“There were two times that I almost sold my house and when both sets of people found out that there was the potential for wind power in town, they backed out,” Whittemore said. “Both times they were within the price I was looking for, and both times they backed out. I ended up having to finance my property and I sold it for one-third less than I wanted. That was only with the potential for wind power. It gives you an idea of how this affects property values.”

Roxbury resident Roger Desgrosseilliers, said that he lived on Roxbury Pond year-round.

“During the summer, when the wind is blowing across the pond, it’s not so bad,” Desgrosseilliers said. “When winter comes around, and there aren’t any leaves on the trees, it sounds like a train blowing through town.”

Selectman Hart Daley asked, “A literal train?”

“Yes; it’s overwhelming,” Desgrosseilliers said.

One resident asked Desgrosseilliers if he received any compensation as a result of the turbines being placed in town.

“I receive $100 a quarter,” Desgrosseilliers said. “I’d give back that $100, plus $200 of my own money if we could get rid of those turbines.”

Later in the meeting, resident Liz Hebert asked if “any pro-wind people could provide reasons why they were in favor of wind development in Dixfield, other than tax breaks.”

Resident Norine Clarke, who helped draft the original ordinance that was approved in 2012, said that one of the reasons she wanted wind development to come to town was to lessen the use of fossil fuels and find something with less of an impact.

“It’s clean and it’s green,” Clarke said. “It isn’t a nuclear plant, and it doesn’t require fracking. If you haven’t heard anything about fracking, it’s one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen.”

She added that she doesn’t see the wind turbines as ugly.

“I’ve talked to people who have said there’s something majestic about them,” Clarke said. “They look kind of slick. If that’s something that bothers you about them, unfortunately, there’s nothing I can say to change your mind.”