Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Maine
Spruce Mountain Wind representatives last week talked with Woodstock officials about possibly altering the town's new wind ordinance to someday allow them to replace their existing turbines with ones that would be quieter overall. The ordinance restricts future wind projects by imposing a lower maximum decibel level for sound generated by the turbines and greater setback from property lines, along with other requirements.
Residents passed an ordinance that would regulate the residential use of wind energy. The town had a wind ordinance, but it applies only to large operations. The new ordinance was passed as a precautionary measure to regulate windmills on personal property.
The state's Renewable Portfolio Standard requires that generation facilities are smaller in output, limited to 100 megawatts, with only wind energy being excluded from that limit. A bill authored by Gov. Paul LePage's office would remove the 100-megawatt limit for all sectors of renewable energy, including hydropower.
The rule amendment did not become effective, however, until June 10, 2012, when it received the required legislative approval. The Board’s February 18, 2012 appeal decision affirmed the Department’s initial decision to apply the 45 dBA limit to the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project. This proved critical to the Law Court because the Project’s applications, while presenting evidence that the Project complied with the 45 dBA limit, presented no evidence that the Project would comply with the 42 dBA limit.
The most contested article was Article 17, which updated the town's Site Plan Review Ordinance, preventing development from being too close to residential areas. ...Residents voted to support the change to the ordinance.
Citing possible noise or falling debris, town officials are proposing an ordinance that would mandate a buffer zone around any future wind power projects. ...Wind turbines 200 to 300 feet tall would need a 5,000-foot buffer; turbines 100 to 199 feet tall, a 2,000-foot buffer; and turbines less than 100 feet tall, a 1,000-foot buffer.
A new, 19-turbine wind farm in Hancock County, which has the capacity to supply the average energy needs of 18,000 homes, has been completed. Boston-based First Wind says its 34-megawatt Bull Hill project has also begun commercial operations. It’s located on the ridges of Bull Hill and Heifer Hill in Hancock County.
The proposed ordinance was designed by the planning board and a Wind Ordinance Committee over the past 6 months, following the enactment of a temporary moratorium earlier this year. The ordinance attempts to balance the interests of the town and maintaining public safety with the rights of property owners.
Under a newly-proposed ordinance, if a developer wishes to build a commercial wind project in Woodstock in the future, neighbors within a two-mile radius of the towers will be notified, and decibel levels will be set significantly below the state requirement.
As for the non-binding straw poll that asked if voters support the construction of wind farms within the town limits of Peru, 194 said Yes; 394 said No. That means the Peru Wind Power Committee will now make recommendations to selectmen about pursuing more restrictive measures.
Resident Pamela Cheesman pointed out that the DEP guidelines are relatively weak. They require a setback of only one and one half times the tower height where the ordinance requires 1 mile from the tower to the nearest non-participating landowner's property line.
Selectmen decided Monday night to postpone a vote on the proposed Wind Energy Facility Ordinance, which had been set for June 12, to Election Day on Nov. 6. In the interim, selectmen will conduct a more in-depth study of tax-incentive financing projects in effect in towns with wind farms.
Daley wants a reduction in the allowable decibel level during nighttime hours from 42 to 35 and from 55 to 42 during the day. "That would still exceed the quiet rural level," he said. Patriot Renewables Project Manager, Tom Carroll, said that change, as well as several others, would drive out the project.
They were prompted to readdress the issue after some residents complained the local performance standards fail to protect them from negative effects of wind turbines. Voters overwhelmingly passed the ordinance at town meeting last month.
Several of the roughly 15 residents at the meeting voiced concerns that the ordinance didn't provide enough protection against wind turbine noise, claiming other towns have passed ordinances that have stricter regulations on the issue. Farmington officials have been working on an ordinance proposal to regulate wind turbine construction for more than two years.
Under the new ordinance, the city is broken up into different zones from residential to industrial. The residential areas will be the most restrictive, limiting wind turbines to 25 feet and up to 160 feet in industrial areas as long as they meet the setback requirements.
Powers said the standards for commercial wind power facilities ordinance that restricts wind energy development to the top of Sunday River Ski Resort's Barker Mountain was approved.
There will be no wind farms or strip clubs in Paris, if the town's Land Use Committee has anything to say about it. "We're trying very hard to create a land-use plan that will make the most amount of people happy and step on the least number of feet, while at the same time help our community grow in a positive way."
The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday night to extend the moratorium on wind power projects another six months and reappointed all members of the Industrial Wind Ordinance Committee.
They voted Thursday in favor of adopting a controversial wind ordinance that was created by worried residents in response to a proposal to build a four- to six-turbine wind farm on a privately owned parcel on top of Mount Waldo. It will be the community's first-ever land-use ordinance.