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Dixfield selectmen schedule public hearing to extend moratorium another 180 days

DIXFIELD – Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that the Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Monday evening to extend the wind energy facility moratorium for another 180 days to give them more time to amend the latest draft of the ordinance.

Puiia said that Selectmen Mac Gill and Eugene Skibitsky voted against extending the moratorium.

“They both voted not to support the extension based on knowledge that the project is not imminent for at least a few years,” Puiia said. “In their opinion, an extension of the moratorium is not necessary.”

However, Puiia added that Belfast lawyer Kristin Collins, who has helped the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board tweak the ordinance since 2012, recommended extending the moratorium, since the ordinance draft currently in effect has “deficiencies.”

“Basically, the three selectmen who approved the extension are doing so based on the lawyer’s recommendation,” Puiia said.

The wind energy facility moratorium that is currently in place expires on Aug. 15.

Before the moratorium can officially be extended, a public hearing must be held to give residents a chance to share their opinion, Puiia said.

“The selectmen will hold a public hearing on Aug. 10, prior to their regular selectmen’s meeting, and as part of their agenda, they will act on whether to extend the moratorium or not,” Puiia added.

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, and as a result, the Board of Selectmen voted to place the Planning Board’s original draft before residents in June.

The Planning Board’s original draft was defeated 359-390 during a June 9 referendum vote.

Puiia added that the Planning Board will meet on Aug. 12 to review the draft of the wind ordinance that was recently defeated and decide whether to offer any recommendations or changes.