DIXFIELD – The Planning Board voted unanimously Thursday evening to table discussion on the Wind Energy Facility Ordinance draft until Sept. 3.
The ordinance was defeated by voters June 9.
“It's my understanding that the selectmen wanted us to pay attention to the section on sound limits,” Chairman Rick Davis said.
The defeated ordinance stated that no wind energy facility unit or system should generate sound levels exceeding 35 decibels from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., or 45 decibels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., approached Dixfield officials three years ago about constructing wind turbines on the Colonel Holman Mountain ridge.
The town's original ordinance passed in November 2012 and a revised ordinance was rejected in November 2014 by a vote of 553-567. In February, selectmen voted to put the Planning Board's original draft on the June 9 ballot.
Tom Carroll, project coordinator for Patriot Renewables, said previously that if residents voted for an ordinance that limited nighttime decibels to 35, it “would not be feasible to build a wind farm in town.”
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the Planning Board is welcome to discuss any section of the wind ordinance that it wants, not just the section on sound limits.
“I think the board felt that the sound limit issue was the crux of the problems that residents had with the latest draft,” Puiia said. “You guys are an advisory board, so if there is any section of the ordinance you wish to discuss, you can discuss it.”
Puiia said officials received a citizens' petition asking that the defeated ordinance be amended with the Department of Environmental Protection sound standards and be brought to another vote.
The Maine DEP sound standards for wind energy facilities are 42 decibels during the nighttime, and 55 decibels during the daytime.
“Just something to keep in mind moving forward,” Puiia added.
Chairman Rick Davis said Carroll was supposed to attend the meeting, but was forced to miss it due to a family emergency.
Selectman Dana Whittemore said he was hoping Carroll would be at the meeting so he and the Planning Board could “toss some numbers back and forth.”
“I hoped that Mr. Carroll would be here so that he and the town could maybe find a number between 35 decibels and 42 decibels that would work for everyone involved,” Whittemore said.
Planning Board member Lauren Hebert said he saw the DEP sound standards as “a blank check.”
“It gives them the right to come in here and impose their will on us,” Hebert said.
Resident Aaron Jamison said that he thought wind turbines would be beneficial to the town, in a business sense.
“So the town majority can impose the wind turbines on me and my neighbors?” Hebert asked.
“That's part of being a town, part of being a community,” Jamison said. “It's not, 'Oh, you guys can't do this because it's going to hurt me.'”
Jamison said he agrees that Patriot Renewables and the town should find something between 35 and 42 decibels for a nighttime sound limit.
“I don't want them to have full reign over us, but I do want them,” Jamison said.
Davis suggested that the Planning Board research sections of the latest wind ordinance draft that they were interested in, and discuss it during a Sept. 3 workshop.
Whittemore suggested that the Planning Board invite Carroll to the next meeting so they can discuss an agreeable nighttime and daytime sound limit for wind turbines.