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Planning board opposes ordinance changes in Union

Residents will be asked in the town meeting warrant to vote on whether to amend the land use ordinance and whether to adopt the proposed new wind energy facility ordinance. The goal of the proposed wind ordinance is to regulate wind energy operations, especially large-scale wind farms, in terms of the noise they produce, according to Selectman John Gibbons.

Issue heads to town meeting vote

Union - The Union Planning Board has voiced opposition to two proposed ordinance changes on the town meeting warrant including one that would regulate wind energy facilities in the town.

The town election will be held Tuesday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town office. The town meeting will be held Monday, June 14 at 7 p.m. at the town office.

Residents will be asked in the town meeting warrant to vote on whether to amend the land use ordinance and whether to adopt the proposed new wind energy facility ordinance.

The goal of the proposed wind ordinance is to regulate wind energy operations, especially large-scale wind farms, in terms of the noise they produce, according to Selectman John Gibbons. He said the state is promoting wind power projects and it is impossible to set regulations in place that would prevent windmills from making any noise, but the proposed ordinance would put a cap on the amount of noise impacting neighbors. The state has a wind ordinance, but some town officials want more specific protections.

Last fall, selectmen asked the Land Use Ordinance Revision Committee to develop wind power regulations... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Issue heads to town meeting vote

Union - The Union Planning Board has voiced opposition to two proposed ordinance changes on the town meeting warrant including one that would regulate wind energy facilities in the town.

The town election will be held Tuesday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the town office. The town meeting will be held Monday, June 14 at 7 p.m. at the town office.

Residents will be asked in the town meeting warrant to vote on whether to amend the land use ordinance and whether to adopt the proposed new wind energy facility ordinance.

The goal of the proposed wind ordinance is to regulate wind energy operations, especially large-scale wind farms, in terms of the noise they produce, according to Selectman John Gibbons. He said the state is promoting wind power projects and it is impossible to set regulations in place that would prevent windmills from making any noise, but the proposed ordinance would put a cap on the amount of noise impacting neighbors. The state has a wind ordinance, but some town officials want more specific protections.

Last fall, selectmen asked the Land Use Ordinance Revision Committee to develop wind power regulations and have them ready for a vote at the next town meeting.

Gibbons said small wind power facilities, suitable for home or farm use, are largely exempt and would gain approval through a faster, streamlined permitting process.

"Our major opposition to the wind energy ordinance is it's creating an ordinance we don't need," said Planning Board Vice Chairman Glenn Taylor. He argued that the existing land use ordinance prohibits wind towers in high elevations anyway.

He added that the proposed changes to the land use ordinance and the new wind ordinance were only presented to the Planning Board recently. "We need more time to go over it," he said.

"Union isn't a good place for big wind energy farms," he added.

He described some of the proposed land use ordinance changes as "over-zoning."

Gibbons explained that some of the changes were made at the last minute. In particular, he said the ordinance revision committee tried to change the land use ordinance to allow hilltop wind towers to make the ordinance consistent with the new proposed wind ordinance. However, the new wind ordinance would have specific regulations for wind mills.

The existing ordinance prohibits wind towers on hills or elevations of 400 feet above sea level or higher.

Gibbons said the last-minute change to the land use ordinance was a mistake and the committee has since withdrawn that proposal. He also took responsibility for it, saying it was his fault and not the committee's.

However, he said the wind ordinance should be passed. "Otherwise, we'll be left defenseless if an application comes in for a big wind farm," he said.

Residents will also be asked to approve the town budget.

The proposed town budget of $1.7 million is down about 20 percent ($432,376) from last year's $2.1 million budget for Union, according to Town Manager Jay Feyler. That municipal budget figure does not include the school or county budgets.

Feyler said the budget will mean a property tax commitment for the town of $976,993, down less than 1 percent ($5,338) from last year.

The expenses were down so drastically due to large ticket items that were in last year's budget that did not need to be included this year, including a septic system project at the municipal building.

The budget contains no raises or cost of living adjustments for town employees.

The fire department budget is $64,120, up 30 percent ($15,000) from last year. The operating budget for the department has not changed since last year, but some reserve money is now being counted under this line.

The ambulance department is $142,100, down $3,647.

The health and sanitation budget is $45,700, down 17 percent ($9,600) from last year.

Public works accounts for $357,377 in the budget, up 11 percent ($36,465). Feyler said that line is up because some of the public works vehicles needed maintenance and repairs.

The budget includes another $222,600 for paving and road construction, about the same as last year.

The general assistance budget is $8,000, the same as last year.

The parks and recreation budget is $9,300, the same as last year.

Selectmen and the budget committee have recommended $15,000 for the Vose Library, the same as was budgeted last year.

Feyler said the budget committee and the selectmen have recommended that the town approve no funding for social service agencies including Spectrum Generations, Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, and Penquis. Instead, he said, the plan is to put something in every tax bill that goes out so that people can donate to these causes if they want to on a voluntary basis. He noted that other towns handle it this way.

In addition, he said the town plans to establish a Union Assistance Fund that would be separate from general assistance and allow the town to provide assistance to townspeople in need. Residents will vote on whether to approve $5,000 for the fund at town meeting.

Up for election this year are the selectman seats held by Greg Grotton and James Justice and two school board positions. Grotton and Justice have returned nomination papers to seek re-election. Sherrie Clark has returned papers to run for a school board seat. Treasurer Linda McAllister is running for re-election.


Source: http://knox.villagesoup.com...

JUN 4 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26620-planning-board-opposes-ordinance-changes-in-union
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