Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Maine
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.
Barring any legal challenges, installation of the Beaver Ridge wind turbines could begin this summer. First Selectman Ron Price, owner of the land where the $12 million wind farm will be located, said the devices have been ordered and delivery is expected to take place in July. The three 400-foot-tall windmills planned for the site are similar to those in place at Mars Hill, he said. They are projected to produce 4.5 megawatts of power annually. "They have been approved, they are moving ahead," Price said Wednesday. ...Bennett said that without an ordinance the town has no protection from noise and there were no setback requirements. He said the turbines would be located 350 feet from abutting property lines. "We don't even have a fall zone, much less the safety setback recommended by turbine manufacturers," he stated.
The Board of Appeals has turned down a request to revoke the building permit for a $12 million wind power project on Beaver Ridge, saying the development had met a requirement to "substantially commence" within six months. Beaver Ridge Wind was issued a permit for the project last July, a few weeks after Freedom residents threw out the town's Commercial Development Review Ordinance, which had set various standards for the project. ..."The building ordinance is very explicit that, if the work permitted by the application has not 'substantially commenced' within six months, the permit is void," said Bennett. "There are only three test borings up there to see how deep the soil is. You don't need a permit to do test borings."
Regarding the wind facility moratorium, it would enact a 180-day moratorium on wind turbine development with the possibility of extending that for another 180 days. That would give planners a chance to prepare appropriate municipal ordinances to better regulate wind turbine development. However, argued Anne Simmons-Edmunds, at town meeting, voters overwhelmingly rejected an ordinance change that would have allowed wind towers to be built on Byron ridges by increasing the maximum allowed heights. "This, to me, is like a moot point," she said. "How can you have a moratorium on something we don't have?" Others argued that a moratorium is needed.
A public hearing on several proposed articles for a special town meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1, in the Coos Canyon Schoolhouse off Route 17. ...Article 4 seeks to establish a wind turbine project development moratorium ordinance.
The first city in Maine to erect a municipal windmill is considering what may be the first zoning ordinance in the state regarding residential wind turbines. The Saco City Council is considering a set of rules to establish standards for placement of small windmills of the sort that could power a home. With the city taking a leading role in wind power by putting up two turbines of its own in the last couple years, Saco City Councilor Eric Cote said many residents are inquiring about erecting their own windmills. ...The ordinance under consideration by the Saco City Council would limit residential windmills to those with a capacity of 10 kilowatts or less.
Aroostook County residents voiced their fears, frustrations and suspicions toward state regulators Sunday during a meeting on potential changes to land use policies in Maine's vast Unorganized Territory. The Land Use Regulation Commission is seeking feedback on proposed alterations to the planning document that guides policy decisions within the roughly 10 million acres of unincorporated regions of the state. ...Many of those who spoke expressed strong concerns about language within CLUP as well as a powerful mistrust of the state agency charged with regulating the region.
Regarding the three-page petition, based on legal advice, Touchette said the board had to accept it. However, he added, the petition doesn't demand a revote of the March 3 town meeting ordinance amendment vote that OK'd the creation of a wind farm district. Essentially, the petition is a proposed land-use ordinance that seeks to ban wind power development in Roxbury as of March 3 until the town can create and adopt zoning and land-use ordinances. It requires planners to regulate wind power development "to minimize its deleterious effects on public health, safety and welfare." ..."We've also been advised to do a revote on the (March 3) ordinance, because there were a few gray areas involved," Touchette said. "We had a public informational meeting instead of a public hearing.
Town ordinances in this coastal Washington County community only allow structures shorter than 50 feet, or 35 feet if the property falls within the designated shoreland zone near the Pleasant River. But Thompson said she felt that the debate over alternative energy sources such as wind power was one worth having, even in her small town. So, after failing twice to get a variance from the town's planning board, Thompson explored the process of amending the municipal height ordinance to allow taller towers. Thanks in large part to her tenacity on the issue, the Addison Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Wednesday to put the question out to voters. "At least it will go to the voters. That's all I wanted,"
A Texas company is courting Aroostook County landowners as it moves forward with plans for several large wind farms that could transform the landscape in some areas of northern Maine. Horizon Wind Energy's long-term plan envisions up to 400 turbines spinning in the farm fields and forests of Aroostook County. Company officials say they are focusing on a forested area west of Bridgewater. But Horizon officials are keeping mum on additional locations, adding only that most are agricultural or forested sites in eastern Aroostook County. ...Horizon, which is also operating locally under the subsidiary name Aroostook Wind Energy, has been quietly working on the project since 2005. ...Dawe said Horizon has received positive feedback from many landowners but that the company strives to be upfront and open about the project. "A wind power project is a large undertaking," he said. "Turbines are neither silent nor invisible."
Residents of Roxbury will get another opportunity to vote on changes to the town's ordinance that were passed at the March 3 town meeting, giving the go-ahead to developers to put up a series of wind towers on a mountain ridge in the town. The Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury have since gathered 89 petition signatures for a moratorium on wind power development in town. Many of the citizens opposed to the wind towers, according to Linda Kuras of the Concerned Citizens, felt they were not given an adequate opportunity to address the negative aspects of the wind towers at the town meeting. ... The citizen's group has sought legal counsel from attorney Frank M. Underkuffler. ...Underkuffler noted several errors in the zoning ordinance amendment. "It does not allow, it actually forces your planning board to abdicate its land planning responsibilities just when the largest, most controversial project comes to your town," he wrote. "Large projects requiring DEP review are exactly those projects local planning boards most want to review."
Harley Lee stood before lawmakers on the Utilities and Energy Committee at the State House on Monday, once again making the case for a Redington Township wind farm permit. ..."We've put over a decade in this and over $5 million so it's been a huge effort to try to save the planet here in Maine," said Lee, president of Endless Energy Corp. of Yarmouth. The debate over developing wind power in Maine was renewed during a public hearing before the legislative committee. The hearing focused on legislation to streamline and expedite the regulation process for wind power developers. The bill is based on the recommendations of Gov. John Baldacci's wind power task force, which released its official report in mid-February. ...Several people stood in opposition of the bill, including Dain Trafton of Phillips. Trafton said the bill's emphasis on streamlining the permitting process would weaken environmental protections already in place.
The backers of what will be New England's largest wind-energy facility, a 38-turbine wind farm in Washington County, are eyeing expanding operations into the Lincoln Lakes region, town officials said Wednesday. Evergreen Wind Power III, LLC has built two meteorological towers worth $90,000 near Rocky Dundee Road and Grandma's Mountain off Route 6 near the Lee line to test those areas' suitability for wind-energy towers. No one knows if, or when, towers will be built on the two properties. However, the town Planning Board on Tuesday night began reviewing other towns' regulations regarding such towers to possibly create its own legislation, if warranted, board member Mike Cole said.
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.
Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday to exempt the height limit for structures so Ben Lund can build a 391/2-foot windmill on his property. A town ordinance limits structures to 35 feet. "They don't consider it to be a structure," Town Manager Kurt Lunt said Thursday. "Our firefighters' capability isn't affected. And if it fell over, it would be within his own property."
A planned wind tower project for a set of mountain ridges in Byron and Roxbury has been left blowing in the wind. In a remarkably different outcome from the Roxbury town meeting vote on March 3, Byron voters on Monday overwhelmingly defeated changes to the town's building ordinance that would have left the door open for developers to put up a series of wind towers within the community. The jam-packed schoolhouse was standing room only in the best turnout at a town meeting that Byron has seen in many years. Citizens were not shy about expressing their opinions on the project and had some heated words for the project developers, Angus King and Rob Gardiner of Independence Wind, LLC of Brunswick, both of whom were in attendance.
Monday's town meeting was noteworthy not only for its length - more than four hours - but also for how decisive voters were regarding wind turbines. Not only did 74 voters in the town of 121 - and many more nonresidents - turn out in overwhelming numbers, but unlike neighboring Roxbury, a majority rejected a bid to allow wind-power facilities in town. "I guess we're not going to have windmills in Byron for a while," Selectman Bruce Simmons said Tuesday evening. "It was so obvious. It would have been like 10 for and 70 against."
Controversy over a proposed wind power project in Byron and Roxbury continues to grow the closer Byron gets to its town meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday. An article in the warrant seeks to amend Byron's building ordinance to allow 450-foot-tall wind towers and turbines to be placed along a ridge between Old Turk Mountain and Record Hill. ...Some information regarding noise levels in those letters and on Record Hill's Web site is being questioned publicly by coalition members Linda Kuras and Sarah Nedeau and others.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
The Nays had in on March 8th when the voters at the Harpswell, Maine annual town meeting took up the issue of a proposed wind study on Long Reach Mountain. The town was being asked to raise $10,000 for a wind study, to be matched by private capital to be raised by the project proponent, a local resident. If the study had proved that there was sufficient wind, it would have set in motion a proposal by the proponent to site 3-4 wind turbines on town property. ...Only one person, the original project proponent, spoke in favor.