Running for Re-election
To the Editor:
To my fellow citizens of Rumford,
My name is Jeff Sterling and I am running for re-election for a seat on the Board of Selectpersons of the Town of Rumford.
It has been an honor to serve the last year and a half and I hope you have come to know me as someone who applies old fashion common sense to the many issues that come before the Board. I have been pleased to be a part of a group who are been dedicated to bringing honor and dignity back to the Board of Selectpersons. Obviously, the issue that has dominated the town’s discussion over the last year has been the attempt to draft an ordinance to regulate wind power.
In the next week, you will be subject to letters to the editor, paid advertisements, mailings and most likely a radio campaign that try to convince you whether the generation of electricity through wind power is good or bad, therefore the proposed ordinance is good or bad. I will let the advocates on both sides do that work. Our task as a board was to draft an ordinance that would regulate any potential wind energy facility.
As you know, there was an ordinance proposed by the Wind Power Advisory Committee, en paneled the Board of Selectpersons that was defeated by the voters last November. That ordinance was seen by some as a permanent moratorium on any potential wind power facility in the Town of Rumford and by others as needed protections.
I did not take a public stance on this draft and in fact chose to present the ordinance as written, when we as a Board had chances to change or amend the draft. I felt that if we had amended the draft, the Wind Power Advisory Committee would have blamed us if it were defeated. As it turned out, it was defeated on its own merits.
In December, the board chose to work on an alternative draft with the intent of having it ready for the June 2011 election. In my view, we had no alternative but to draft an ordinance that was seen as less restrictive while allowing the possibility of a wind power facility. We chose to use the Maine State Planning Office template as a guide. Selectmen Buccina and Volkernick, along with those who drafted the original ordinance advocated that
we use the defeated ordinance. To their credit, they were right. As we started work, using the Planning Office template, it became apparent quickly that it was full of holes that would be very difficult to fill, although other towns have done so. We were also challenged at every meeting to go back to the original ordinance and “tweak” it.
By late February, it became clear to me that we were not going to move forward on the Planning Office template and reversed my opposition to “tweaking” the defeated ordinance. I re-read it once, then again, and came to my own personal conclusion that we as a board could work with it. However, it would take more than “tweaking”, it would be a major rewrite.
I took the major areas of concern that the board had previously identified: sound levels, safety and sound set-backs, decommissioning, and shadow ficker, and went to work drafting new language that would be less restrictive than the defeated ordinance while not paving a golden road for wind development.
In other words, a compromise ordinance. My sources for the changes were the Planning Office template, the proposed ordinance for the Bethel area towns, studies done for the towns of Fairhaven and Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Warren, Vermont, position papers from Maine to the United Kingdom and the Site Plan Review Ordinance from the Town of Rumford.
I also referenced volumes of notes I took at wind ordinance meetings with Andy Fiske of the DEP and John Maloney of AVCOG, and finally ideas put forth by the Board. I then presented my ideas for a new ordinance to the Board, who decided to use it. We then had many meetings to discuss this new draft and asked the public in attendance, many of whom worked on the defeated ordinance, to review the new draft and come up with, in writing, any suggestions for inclusions and/or deletions.
We received nothing, which in hindsight was completely predictable as this draft allowed for the possibility of wind power development, which they are 100% against. In the end, we did what we had to do. We drafted an ordinance that would regulate while allowing the
possibility of wind development in the Town of Rumford.
So today we have a draft ordinance for your review. It’s available on the town website or a hard copy is available at the town office. It’s up to you at this point.
As I stated previously, you will read many letters, and be exposed to ads both for and against. Please respect all points of view, but with everything you see or read, demand the presenter of the information to source their material. Make sure it is accurate, truthful and reliable. If you believe the draft is too permissive then vote no. If you believe this is a sensible approach to the regulation of wind power while allowing for the possibility of a wind energy facility in town, vote yes. I trust the voters to make the right decision.
Beyond the wind issue, there are many positive developments regarding economic development.
I am so pleased that businesses are looking at Rumford in a positive light and are considering our town as a good place to locate their business. They are learning what we already know: Rumford is a great place to live, work and play. I look forward to seeing you on election day, June 14.