DIXFIELD – A recount of votes on the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance on Tuesday afternoon means the 2012 ordinance stands, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said.
The recount was 359-390 against repealing the 2012 ordinance and replacing it with the Planning Board’s draft.
The June 9 vote was 377-372 in favor of repealing the 2012 ordinance and replacing it with the Planning Board draft.
Several citizens petitioned for a recount after the close vote June 9, he said.
“There were four of us in the room counting, and it looks like some of the ‘yes’ votes were recorded as ‘no’ votes, while some of the ‘no’ votes were recorded as ‘yes’ votes,” Puiia said. “What this means is that the decision is reversed . . . the old ordinance passed in 2012 remains in place until the selectmen figure out what to do next.”
He added, “The Board of Selectmen will discuss this at their next meeting on July 13. My prediction is that they’ll continue to work off of what the Planning Board has already done. It has a lot of good stuff in it.”
Puiia confirmed that Board of Selectmen Chairman Hart Daley was also in attendance for the recount.
“There were several of us in the room, and a number of people were there as witnesses,” Puiia said. “I think we pinpointed where the problem was, and that this is an accurate count.”
Puiia said the change in the vote totals was an “honest mistake.”
“When a recount’s result has a differing outcome, and one with a substantial change such as this, it can tend to cause citizens to lose faith in the process, and some look to brand those involved as unethical,” the town manager said. “Recount laws exist for the reason that an error may occur during the counting process. It’s unfair to imply that anyone did anything intentional to effect the outcome. Numbers were inadvertently recorded in reverse order.”
Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., approached Dixfield officials five years ago about constructing wind turbines on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge. The town has been working on regulations to govern such developments.
In November 2012, voters approved a wind ordinance drafted by Norine Clarke and Stephen Donahue, who served on the Board of Selectmen at the time.
In early 2013, selectmen voted to send the draft to the Planning Board and tasked them with amending some of the language.
Residents rejected an amended version of the Planning Board’s draft in November 2014.
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