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Wind projects on warrant in Canaan

Canaan – A proposed municipal ordinance pertaining to large-scale wind energy projects that’s been a year in the making will go before voters on Town Meeting Day.

Since Canaan doesn’t have zoning regulations, the proposed ordinance is needed to give the town more local control, supporters say.

“There’s nothing in the ordinance that prohibits wind turbines. That’s not our goal,” said Planning Board member Claude Lemoi, who chaired the committee that drafted the proposal. “It’s aimed at larger installations. We want to make sure they’re done right.”

In December, the seven-member Planning Board unanimously recommended its passage. (The 21-page proposal can be found on the town’s website at tinyurl.com/Canaan-wind.)

The proposal is intended to regulate “large wind energy systems” that produce between one megawatt and 30 megawatts of electrical power. It places place height and noise restrictions on installations that involve multiple turbines.

“Some of these turbines can be 200- to 400-feet high,” Lemoi said. “They can have a visual impact.”

It wouldn’t affect smaller wind projects by individual homeowners, farms or schools, he added.

Alix Olson, a Canaan resident who has supported of the proposal in local Listserv postings, cited a single wind turbine on the Cardigan Mountain School campus as an example of a project that wouldn’t be subject to the ordinance.

“This is not prohibiting anyone in Canaan from putting up a windmill,” Olson said.

Talk of such an ordinance gained steam in 2016 when a project known as Spruce Ridge Wind was proposed. It would have built 29 wind turbines across Canaan, Orange, Dorchester, Alexandria and Groton, N.H.

In the drafting the ordinance, the Planning Board looked at ordinances already on the books in other New Hampshire communities, including Orange and Groton.

“We are trying to be proactive in case a developer comes along,” Lemoi said. “We have a lot of hills and smaller mountains that could be attractive sites.”

In other Town Meeting business, voters will be asked to approve a proposed town budget of $3,668,506, which is roughly $100,000 more than this year’s spending plan.

The bulk of the increase would go toward replenishing capital reserve funds and insurance costs associated with moving a maintenance highway worker from part-time to full-time status, Town Administrator Mike Samson said.

The proposed budget also includes seven nonprofit social service agency requests totaling $38,431.

If the proposed budget and all seven of the social service agency requests are approved, the town’s property tax rate is expected to increase by seven cents to about $6.90 per $1,000 of valuation. That amounts to a $14 tax increase on a $200,000 home.

In Town Meeting elections, Selectboard incumbent Al Posnanski is running unopposed for a three-year term.

The only contested races are for trustee positions on the library and cemetery boards.

In library races, Laura McDermott and incumbent Angelique Robinson are vying for a one-year term. Three candidates – incumbent Denise Reitsma, Morris Levy and incumbent Kimberly McQuaid – are seeking two positions that carry three-terms.

Eleanor Davis and Michael Fogarty are competing on the ballot for a three-year term as a cemetery trustee.