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Still confusion with proposed wind ordinance vote
RUMFORD -- Town Manager Carlo Puiia said he's hearing that there's still some confusion regarding the upcoming referendum vote Tuesday on the town's proposed wind ordinance.
“Some people are of the mindset that a 'no' vote means a vote against wind towers and a 'yes' vote is a vote to allow wind towers,” he said.
However, Puiia said a "yes" vote to approve the ordinance will allow local regulation on wind towers, while a "no" vote would allow state regulation on wind towers, using Maine Department of Environmental Protection wind project laws. “This is not a vote for or against wind power, but a vote on how we govern a wind energy facility if one were to be built in our town.”
This is the third proposed wind power ordinance presented to the town since last November. The first proposed wind ordinance, which many believed to be too restrictive, was defeated in November 2010. The second one, thought to be too liberal, was defeated in June.
The board made compromises compared to November 2010 and June 2011 versus the third proposal. However, some citizens are concerned that the third proposal discourages the wind industry from considering Rumford as a site.
To help Rumford residents better understand the third proposed wind ordinance, the town placed a chart on its website. The chart compares key points between the first and second proposals that were defeated, and the third proposal.
Like the first proposal, the third one:
* Restricts nighttime sounds from turbines to 40 decibels and daytime sounds to 50 decibels. Forty decibels is the equivalent of a soft whisper at 5 feet away, while 50 decibels is equivalent to normal spoken voice.
* Gives the Planning Board 90 days to review a project.
* Requires inspections, an operational license, enforcement of a violation agreement provision, and pre-blast surveys.
Where it differs, the third proposal:
* Requires a 4,000 foot setback from non-participating property owners instead of 5,280 feet.
* Restricts blade flicker to no more than 12 hours a year instead of 10 hours annually.
* Carries no blade glint standard, but the developer must submit a sample of non-reflective paint to be used on the blades.
* Requires no sound study procedures and no mitigation waiver financial disclosure.
* Ensures Planning Board approval of the application following a public hearing in 90 instead of 120 days.
* Limits wind turbine height to 450 feet instead of 400 feet.
* Requires 50 percent decommissioning up front and 12.5 percent annually for two to five years instead of 100 percent up front.
* Allows 12 months for the project phasing plan instead of six months.
* Includes a community benefits provision.
The bullet point comparisons can be found on the town website at www.rumfordmaine.net.