Searsmont – Selectmen voted Oct. 4 to extend a moratorium on wind energy facilities for an additional six months.
At town meeting this year, residents voted in favor of a moratorium on wind energy facilities for a 180-day period from the date of its adoption. The moratorium was enacted to give Planning Board members time to draft an ordinance for regulating such facilities.
A wind energy facility is defined as a facility that uses one or more wind turbines to convert wind energy to electrical energy. Small, residential wind turbines with a nameplate capacity less than 100-kilowatt hours and less than 100 feet in height are exempt.
While the town has a zoning ordinance, it is unclear if wind energy facilities are an allowed use. Also, the ordinance does not include necessary standards for reviewing and approving such developments. Without those regulations, there could be “serious public impacts,” according to the moratorium’s language in the 2015 town report.
Those impacts relate to safety problems, visual degradation, noise, environmental degradation, loss of property values and health problems.
Town Clerk Kathy Hoey said Planning Board members anticipate they will complete work on the ordinance in time for a vote at next year’s town meeting. She said while Planning Board members had been making significant progress on the ordinance, a slew of applications in recent months pulled the board’s attention away from ordinance work.
No applications have been submitted to the town for a wind generating facility, according to town officials.
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