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Proposed wind power ordinance unveiled in Jackson

A proposed ordinance that would regulate wind turbines in town received a mostly warm reception when it was presented to residents at a public hearing Nov. 19. ...The ordinance contains a number of specific setbacks - the distance between a wind turbine and a particular reference point, such as a property line - with regard to noise and other concerns. The summary handout said the setbacks are designed to "balance the needs of wind turbine owners or developers and nearby residents."

Selectman promises residents will have chance to vote on ordinance

Jackson - A proposed ordinance that would regulate wind turbines in town received a mostly warm reception when it was presented to residents at a public hearing Nov. 19.

The hearing, held at the Jackson Community Center, drew a crowd of about 50 people. Members of the planning board, who, along with members of a subcommittee on wind power, had crafted the ordinance, sat at the front of the room and explained parts of the 56-page document and answered questions about it.

A single-page summary handout titled "Wind Ordinance Highlights" stated the purpose of the ordinance is to "first protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Jackson with a secondary purpose of encouraging and promoting appropriately scaled wind turbine development."

Tom Olds, who served on the wind power subcommittee, commended the planning board and others who worked on the ordinance and said he appreciated the focus on health, safety and welfare.

Discussion on specific parts of the ordinance began when David McDaniel, also a member of the wind power subcommittee, spoke about mitigation waivers and said they... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Selectman promises residents will have chance to vote on ordinance

Jackson - A proposed ordinance that would regulate wind turbines in town received a mostly warm reception when it was presented to residents at a public hearing Nov. 19.

The hearing, held at the Jackson Community Center, drew a crowd of about 50 people. Members of the planning board, who, along with members of a subcommittee on wind power, had crafted the ordinance, sat at the front of the room and explained parts of the 56-page document and answered questions about it.

A single-page summary handout titled "Wind Ordinance Highlights" stated the purpose of the ordinance is to "first protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Jackson with a secondary purpose of encouraging and promoting appropriately scaled wind turbine development."

Tom Olds, who served on the wind power subcommittee, commended the planning board and others who worked on the ordinance and said he appreciated the focus on health, safety and welfare.

Discussion on specific parts of the ordinance began when David McDaniel, also a member of the wind power subcommittee, spoke about mitigation waivers and said they were a key part of the ordinance.

The ordinance contains a number of specific setbacks - the distance between a wind turbine and a particular reference point, such as a property line - with regard to noise and other concerns. The summary handout said the setbacks are designed to "balance the needs of wind turbine owners or developers and nearby residents."

McDaniel said the setbacks could be waived if one party wanted to erect a wind turbine, provided the "affected parties" - those people living within the setback area - gave their permission.

"In the case of industrial turbines - say, 400-foot turbines - that would require the company to negotiate with more than just the leaseholders," he said.

Olds agreed with McDaniel, and said those who characterized the kind of setbacks proposed in the ordinance as effectively being a ban on wind turbines were incorrect. Olds acknowledged that developers find waivers "bothersome and troublesome," because the waivers "could cost them a lot of money," but he said developers don't lack for money.

"If you vote this [ordinance] down, and go with something less restrictive, then you've just thrown 20 or 30 families under the bus," Olds told the audience. He said such a vote would also end up saving developers a lot of money.

When discussion turned to the setbacks themselves, there were mixed opinions offered. Some were concerned the setbacks, particularly those for large, industrial wind turbines, might be too restrictive. For those large turbines, the proposed setback is 13 times the turbine height. A 400-foot turbine, for example, would then have a setback of 5,200 feet - 80 feet short of a mile.

Don Nickerson Sr. said he wondered if the same standards had been in place on Vinalhaven, where several industrial wind turbines recently went up, if the residents there would have had to "live in the ocean."

Jim Shue said he felt the community should do more to solicit input from wind developers, to see how they felt about the proposed ordinance. He said in that way, the community could gauge whether it was being practical about the issue of wind power.

"I have heard directly that this ordinance is a death knell for wind power in Jackson," said Shue, adding he had been told that by someone affiliated with a wind power company.

Regarding Shue's suggestions that wind power developers come and be allowed to address the community, several people pointed out that had already been done in the fall of 2008 when representatives from two wind companies made their case to bring wind power to Jackson at a public meeting. They also noted those representatives were welcome to attend any of the numerous meetings that had been held since that time.

"They've been afforded every opportunity," said planning board member George Faulkner. He said wind power developers "don't need any more of a personal invitation from the planning board" than any Jackson resident does.

The meeting in the fall of 2008 kicked off many discussions about wind power in town, and the interest by developers prompted residents to enact a six-month moratorium on wind power in January of 2009. That moratorium was renewed by selectmen this past summer, and remains in place through January of 2010.

As outlined by those involved in the process, the goal of the moratorium was to give the town time to create an ordinance to address and regulate wind turbines in town. There was some concern among audience members at the Nov. 19 hearing, however, about whether or not the ordinance would ever be brought to a vote.

As outlined by Planning Board Chairwoman Brenda Dennison, the next step after the hearing is to present the ordinance to selectmen, who will then decide if and when the ordinance will be voted on by townspeople.

Several audience members said they were concerned the selectmen might be working on an alternative ordinance to take the place of the document being discussed that night.

"I really don't understand why they wouldn't want to put it on a warrant and let townspeople decide for themselves," said planning board member Cheryl Moore, referring to the proposed ordinance. "I can't see selectmen just tossing it out. I expect them to put it out to the people for a vote.

Dennison said the hearing was not designed to "decide what selectmen will or will not do."

"Let's stop with who votes, who doesn't vote and who's going to do what after this," she said. "It goes on to the selectmen after this - we can't decide that tonight."

One selectman though, later made a statement that did appear to decide the issue.

"If I can ease everybody's mind, this thing is definitely going to a vote," said Selectman John Work. With multiple people speaking at the same time, it was difficult for everyone to hear Work's statement above the crowd. When others asked what Work had said, Moderator Gary Stacey paraphrased Work's comments.

John Work's wife, Jennifer Work, offered a defensive explanation of how selectmen were approaching the issue of voting on the ordinance.

"Selectmen are concerned that if this goes to a vote, and the town rejects it, should the town have something else in place?" she said. "They didn't want to throw it out."

Other sections of the ordinance that drew interest during the public hearing included the section dealing with conflicts of interest on the part of public officials and how noise levels would be determined, defined and measured.


Source: http://waldo.villagesoup.co...

NOV 25 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23295-proposed-wind-power-ordinance-unveiled-in-jackson
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