SPO model on wind not "golden" for taxpayers
To the Editor:
This past November in Rumford, after the Wind Advisory Committee’s recommended wind facility ordinance failed to pass at the ballot box, the Board of Selectmen took on the tough challenge of trying to create a new wind ordinance that would be both protective of the town and be fair to the developers.
They did this at the same time when they also needed to concentrate on the upcoming town budget. I know this is a tough challenge because I was a member of the original advisory committee that worked for nine months researching and developing the first wind ordinance.
In one of the first workshops, the selectmen outlined the steps necessary to accomplish their goal. Some of the items included a trip to Mars Hill, forums with state officials and AVCOG, the use of Androscoggin’s Senior Land Use Planner John Maloney’s work, sections from the original Rumford wind facility ordinance, and using the State Planning Office model wind ordinance as a template. At that time, the intentions sounded good but almost none of these steps have been done and the clock is ticking with the current moratorium expiring in May.
The majority of the selectmen now seem content with just “rubber stamping” the State Planning Office’s model, which was designed to expedite the permitting process for wind development and actually does little to protect the Town of Rumford and its citizens.
This can be seen by attending the selectmen’s meetings or watching them on the Public Access Channel - WVAC 7. When confronted with questions regarding why they support portions of an ordinance or what research have they done to arrive at their conclusions, the majority of the members of this Board of Selectmen cannot give an adequate answer.
This is coming at a time when there are several bills proposed in the State Legislature to help better protect the towns. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has admitted that there are flaws in the regulations but that nothing can be done until the current laws are changed by Legislative action.
A number of towns in the state such as Buckfield, Phillips, Dixmont, Wilton, Thorndike, Montville, Jackson, Clifton, New Vineyard, Avon, Sedgwick, Penobscot, Eddington and Unity have adopted stricter and more encompassing ordinances than the SPO model that the majority of Rumford’s selectmen now seem to favor.
A few weeks ago, there was an excellent quote in the Lewiston Daily Sun from Selectman Brad Adley in regards to the budget process. He reminded the board that only three of them would, as selectmen, “have to live with this budget” due to expiring terms. The same emphasis should be placed on the Rumford wind facility ordinance. The Rumford citizens will have to live with the mistakes that the Board of Selectmen are making if they continue to go down the path of using the SPO model wind ordinance as a guideline.
In the beginning, it seemed that the SPO was to be a starting point and now it appears to be the Golden Rule; one that is definitely not “golden” for the taxpayers. I urge all Rumford citizens to contact your town officials before it is too late and ask them why they are taking a reactive instead of a proactive approach.
It’s not about being for or against wind and/or business, it’s about setting the guidelines to be good business partners and looking out for the health and well being of all taxpayers in our community.
Peter Buotte, Jr.,