TEMPLE — More than 50 residents attended a public meeting Monday night to share thoughts on the town's wind energy system ordinance and see what interest there might be, if any, in changing it.
The meeting was called after selectmen received a letter from a Renewal Energy Systems Americas Inc. representative. The company has an interest in mountain properties owned by Robert Thorndike and Jack Currier west of the Intervale. The company and land owners wanted to see if there might be interest in repealing or modifying the ordinance passed in February 2012.
Selectman Austin Foss said he thought the ordinance should be reviewed by residents. He didn't want to turn down a project that could generate income for the town without voter input.
At the meeting were Dan Boyd, RES senior director project development; Peter Endrus, a contractor with RES working as a land agent in the Northeast; Sean Flannery, RES senior permitting manager; and Brooke Barnes, senior project manager with Stantec, a Topsham-based company.
Boyd emphasized there is no project being considered for the proposed area. He said this is not the only project being looked at by RES.
Since Temple's wind ordinance was approved, several wind projects have been built in neighboring communities. Given the financial impact and the jobs those projects created, Boyd asked if Temple might not want to reconsider the ordinance.
Several questions were answered by the RES representatives. The towers would probably be 400 to 500 feet tall and more than 200 feet around. It requires an average of 7 to 12 acres of infrastructure for each tower, with 1.5 to 3 acres needed for the tower.
Resident Steve Kaiser asked who would compensate for the property value and way of life that would be lost. "The town isn't fit for the industrial revolution. I'll bear the tax burden to sustain the way of life I enjoy," he said.
Ronald Rackliffe was in favor of a wind project. He said there's no way that he, as a taxpayer, can pay for the road rebuilding needed in town.
Kathy Childs, whose father, Hollis "Bill" Mosher, once owned some of the land involved, asked townspeople to show some respect for the landowners and what they have done for the town.
"We need to think of them. Do it fairly and let the town decide," she said.
Ben Milster asked if the town decided not to change the ordinance would RES' legal team strategize with the landowners. Boyd said he would give his word not to challenge the ordinance.
Former Selectman Kathy Lynch said a wind project would not provide benefits for very long. "It worries me a lot," she said.
The impact on wildlife, the possibility of fires and loss of access were other concerns expressed.
Janine Winn shared a picture of a Federal Energy Map. She said towers would be seen in much of the town.
Selectman Jean Mitchell spoke of the process to repeal or change the wind energy system ordinance.
Milster suggested using that process.
The possibility of a warrant article at the annual town meeting was also suggested.
Jo Josephson sat through hundreds of such meetings as a former journalist. She said she was proud of the town and excited about having the meeting. She thanked selectmen and RES representatives.
"You guys were even-tempered, candid and I think honest. I learned things I didn't know. I think we have been exceedingly good," she said.