December 16, 2015

Dixfield board postpones ordinance vote until Dec. 28

MATTHEW DAIGLE, Staff Writer | Sun Journal | December 15, 2015 |

DIXFIELD – The Board of Selectmen voted Monday to wait until its Dec. 28 meeting to vote on whether to follow the town attorney’s recommendation to place the amended Wind Energy Facility Ordinance on the annual town meeting warrant.

Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., approached town officials in October 2010 about constructing 13 turbines on leased land on Colonel Holman Ridge.

The town passed a wind energy development ordinance in November 2012, but it contained zoning restrictions that were unenforceable. In November 2014, a revised ordinance was rejected. On June 9, the Planning Board’s original draft was also rejected.

In August, selectmen accepted a citizens’ petition to adopt the sound standards of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, including a limit of 42 decibels at night and 55 decibels during the day, for the ordinance.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the board received legal opinions from the Maine Municipal Association, Belfast lawyer Kristen Collins and town attorney Jennifer Kreckel on how to proceed with placing the amended ordinance on the town meeting warrant.

Collins, who is preparing the most recent amendment of the ordinance, said the town is not bound by the petition, but agreed that they were acting appropriately in doing what the petition suggested.

In a letter to the board, Kreckel said, “Since the petition is vague, the ordinance could be legally challenged by those who oppose development as being void, since it didn’t comply with state statutes regarding a citizens petition. At the same time, if the board doesn’t put it forward, petitioners may feel inclined to challenge decision.”

She later suggested that the board place the ordinance on the warrant “not based on the petition, but on their own desire to do it.”

Puiia said Board of Selectmen Chairman Hart Daley was not able to attend Monday evening’s meeting, and the board felt it would be prudent to “wait until all five members of the board were available to vote.”

“Also, Selectman Dana Whittemore said that he wanted to see if the Planning Board had any new information to add,” Puiia said. “He was hoping to get updated amounts on the tax impact a wind project would have on the town. The plan is to contact Maine Revenue Services and get an updated projection.”

In other business, the board began setting up its 2016 budget schedule, Puiia said.

“Right now, we’re looking at the end of April for a town meeting, which means we would want the warrant to be ready no later than the second week of April,” he said. “We decided that starting in February, we would meet on the alternate week that our regular selectmen’s meeting is held.”

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