Zoning/Planning and Maine
We chose Dixmont's ordinance as a starting point because it was the most protective. These limits are in line with the World Health Organization's European section, where a long history of wind development has provided ample opportunity to discover where health-impacting mistakes were made.
The industry was passive on setbacks in the early days of siting the towers and turbines. Communities relied on ordinances adapted from other industrial projects, or took the word of developers. That was a mistake. Most notably in Mars Hill, where the state's first major wind power project was built, residents tell horror stories about not being able to sleep. ...Better data is needed, and it is needed soon.
Endless Energy's effort to put a wind farm on top of Redington Mountain near Carrabassett Valley is a bad idea that won't die the death it sorely needs. In fact, the idea seems to get worse all the time. Knocked down four times, twice by the Land Use Regulation Commission, once by the Governor's Wind Power Task Force, and once by the legislature in its 2008 Wind Power bill, this commercial creature is still on its feet however barely.
Today we are faced with many issues regarding the previous ecological misuse of our planet. In our mad dash to correct the maligning of our environment we are grasping at alternative sources of energy: mainly wind, solar and hydro. Wind power is the concern of this letter, and Harley Lee's project on the Redington Range is the center of that concern. I wonder if, in our rush to seek alternatives to foreign oil, we may be overlooking our most valuable local natural resources.
We think the Waldo County Commissioners should convene a high-level forum on wind energy and invite people from all over the area. That way, Freedom residents who have experience with turbines and those from other communities that may well decide to welcome them can confer with both experts and each other. The goal could be a countywide approach to wind energy, though that might be getting ahead of ourselves. After the talk is over, at least we'd all be on the same page.
What happened in Roxbury, though contentious, needed to happen. Community-changing projects cannot be built without debate, scrutiny or emotional outburst - it comes with the territory ...What should resonate from Roxbury into the ears of public officials and wind developers across Maine is this: Residents affected by wind projects care deeply about their communities and will fight doggedly to ensure their interests are heard and their demands met.
I encourage voters to vote "no" to these changes. By voting "no," voters will say "yes" to keeping these majestic mountains intact, placed there by Mother Nature, God, or whomever people believe had a hand in the Western mountains' design.
Nothing is free. There are conditions to the free electricity offer. It is not nice to play with Mother Nature. Disrupting the mountains will plague lives forever.
The town has already spent too much money fighting Ron Price's battles. If the town spends more money fighting the road issue on Ron Price's behalf, then place the blame where it belongs.
The residents of Beaver Hill did not ask for this to happen to us. We feel that we are entitled to at least some protection, and that the town has largely ignored our concerns.
If this project goes through, Freedom will have the distinction of being the only industrial wind turbine project ever carried out in the State of Maine without any standards whatsoever. Please vote yes to reinstate the Commercial Development Review Ordinance on June 10.
The neighbors of the proposed wind turbine project in Freedom are asking the voters of Freedom to reinstate the Commercial Review Ordinance at the June referendum, retroactive to the date of the repeal.
This is the only way to put some reasonable standards in force.
When the town voted to repeal the ordinance last year, we were told the Planning Board would write a new one. That has not happened. ...Consequently, we have no protection from noise, ice throw, strobe effect, no safety setbacks, no standards of any type.
These 400-foot turbines will be located only 350 feet from our property lines. We don't even have a fall zone, much less the safety setbacks recommended by turbine manufacturers.
Putting aside the merits and flaws of a proposal to build three, 400-foot-tall wind turbines on Beaver Ridge in Freedom, we have to ask: What the heck are local officials thinking?
On May 1, the town's Board of Appeals heard a request by opponents of the project to revoke a building permit issued to the developers in July 2007. The opponents said work had not "substantially commenced" within the six-month period required by local ordinance.
The appeals board ultimately rejected that argument ...But it did so with Dave Bridges, a vocal supporter of wind power, as acting chairman of the board.
By giving organized Maine expedited status for wind developments, the state's task force has invited developers to consider these areas for projects. It's an incentive, plain and simple, to know where planning reviews will have priority, and where they will not.
Reaction in Byron indicates towns and cities won't take to this designation, even if they think alternative energies are necessary. The belief somewhere else, or some other energy technology, is more appropriate is just too strong.
It was in Byron, and if a reputed repeal effort in Roxbury gains strength, there, too. And these are emblematic of the towns wind companies should target - rural, mountainous and with low populations, and therefore low impact.
But it's a choice to accept wind power, as communities and commissions have myriad reasons to reject proposals.
What is an appropriate wind-power site? It is understandable that a disappointed wind-power developer would sing the song of sour grapes regarding the rejection of its proposed wind- power project on Black Nubble and the previous rejection of the larger Redington Mountain proposal.
The suggestion that the citizen commissioners of LURC do not understand wind power and that they are basically incompetent to judge such projects is, of course, ludicrous.
Maine's love-hate relationship with wind power will face a big test Monday. Actually, a couple of them.
Two wind farm proposals could face up-or-down votes by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, the zoning board for northern Maine.
All bets are off about whether the projects are in for a warm hug or a cold shoulder.
Both projects would be in the hills of Franklin County, and together they would double Maine's wind power capacity.
The Friends of the Boundary Mountains are opposed to the TransCanada request to rezone Kibby Mountain and the Kibby Range from a "protected mountain zone" to a zone that permits industrial development, which would enable the construction of a 44-tower wind power project.
FBM invites the public to attend an evening of information and a free spaghetti dinner at the Stratton-Eustis Community Building on Friday, July 20 at 6 p.m.
The purpose of the dinner is to explain FBM's reasons for opposing this wind project.
I also reject the notion that this debate is about efforts to reduce global warming, and the opposition to the project is a return of NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard).
The debate, in my mind, was and still is about process, and whether a small town is able and prepared to understand the need to treat all landowners fairly, and the importance of planning tools like ordinances to facilitate a fair process.
By supporting the repeal as a way to circumvent accountability, CES may get the high ground on Beaver Ridge for its turbines, but in no way did CES take the high ground in serving all residents of Freedom with respect and fairness as it struggled to meet the needs of this project and to plan for appropriate development in the future.
The new plan stands a much better chance of getting built because it doesn't disturb the most sensitive areas and is farther from the Appalachian Trail. But it is still an example of how conflicted environmentalists can be on wind energy.
The Conservation Law Foundation, a strong supporter of the plan from the start, urged the commission to reconsider instead of killing the plan. According to CLF, global warming from fossil fuel use is a much bigger threat to the environment and wildlife than the wind turbines.
Maine Audubon, a steadfast opponent of the plan, argued against giving the developer extra time to regroup instead of having to start over. As Audubon saw the Redington plan, the impacts on wildlife and a sensitive natural resource outweighed the benefits of that particular wind farm.
As a tourist who visits the area, I notice what is transparent to most locals, and for me the skyline of Fairhaven is priceless. If the citizens of Fairhaven allow the wind power project to be built at the current proposed location, I believe you will be making a terrible mistake. The town may gain some money in taxes and offset some electrical energy costs, but it will not offset the loss in green space and, more importantly, the beauty of Fairhaven's historic charm.
The executive order creating the task force notes that "wind resources occur in various areas of the State that may have important ecological, natural resource, remote resource, and other values that are important to Maine people that can lead to conflict regarding the siting of wind power facilities." The group is to recommend ways to resolve such conflicts, to improve and streamline regulation and siting, and to encourage wind power in Maine.
The order does not say that an important value is being able to turn on lights, televisions, computers, coffee makers, computers, and on and on.
Thank you for allowing me to speak. My name is Wendy Todd. I am from Aroostook County. I am a resident of Mars Hill and live approximately 2600 feet from the Mars Hill Wind Project. I am here today to offer testimony that residents around the project are suffering. There are 18 families that I know of that are negatively impacted on a regular basis from the noise, strobe effect and shadow flicker from the turbines. Most of these 18 families live less than 3000 feet from the turbines. There is no one that I know of from 425 East Ridge Road to 212 Mountain Road that does not agree that there are issues with noise. Issues that are changing the way residents view life around the mountain. We have formed a group called the Mountain Landowners Association in an attempt to share information and come up to speed on the issues of living this close to turbines of this size and generation. We have had to struggle through massive amounts of documentation from the Internet and from other towns that are dealing with the same issues.
Not allowing for corrections by CES, a petition has been presented to us today to vote on eliminating the entire ordinance, the same ordinance we recently approved.
Therefore, should not CES make adjustments in order to meet the requirements of the Freedom ordinance?
Or should the ordinance of the town of Freedom be abolished in order to meet the needs of CES, a private corporation!