DIXFIELD – The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Monday evening to table a vote on whether to place the amended Wind Energy Facility Ordinance on the annual town meeting warrant next June.
Selectman Eugene Skibitsky made the motion to table the vote to Jan. 11, 2016, saying he wanted to give the board and residents the chance to review the proposed amendments made by Kristin Collins, a Belfast lawyer.
“They can compare them to the ordinance that they defeated in June, so they can see specifically what changes Kristin made to the ordinance,” Skibitsky said.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Hart Daley asked Puiia if he could post the amendments to the town’s website.
“It’d be nice if they could have the old ordinance, and the new one side by side,” Daley said.
Puiia said he would ask the town’s technical support to make sure both documents were on the website.
Following the vote, Planning Board Chairman Ricky Davis said his board is meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 21 and suggested selectmen attend so they can get their questions answered.
At its last meeting, the Planning Board voted 3-2 against recommending the amended ordinance, Davis said.
Daley suggested that at the Planning Board’s next meeting, members draft a list of pros and cons for why they voted against recommending passage of the revised ordinance.
“I’m just trying to figure out why you guys voted that way,” Daley said.
The June 14, 2016, vote at the annual town meeting would be the fourth time in over three years that residents have cast ballots on the measure to regulate wind power development.
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 for the ordinance that includes a limit of 42 decibels at night and 55 decibels during the day.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the board received legal opinions from Collins, the Maine Municipal Association and town attorney Jennifer Kreckel on how to proceed with placing the amended ordinance on the town meeting warrant.
Kreckel advised in a letter that the citizen petition was “vague” and “failed to properly propose a ballot question.”
She 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 suggested that the board put forward the ordinance “not based on the petition, but on their own desire to do it.”
“That will help minimize the risk of litigation against the board,” she wrote.
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