Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wind power zoning law change hits snag

Sun Journal

By Terry Karkos , Staff Writer

Friday, August 29, 2008

ROXBURY - Brunswick-based wind power developers Robert Gardiner and Angus King were at a Planning Board meeting Thursday night for expected work on zoning changes that would allow wind towers on town hills.

But that didn't happen.

The planning meeting was supposed to have been preceded by a meeting Tuesday at which selectmen were expected to appoint planners Barry Bunten, Mark Henry and Randy Orr to a planning commission.

That commission would be tasked with reviewing and recommending revisions to the comprehensive plan and the proposed creation of a new mountain district zone.

Until that happens, Henry said, planners couldn't legally work on either document.

That clearly disappointed King and Gardiner, who for the past year and a half have held off applying for state permits and purchasing turbines and equipment.

They have held informational meetings and submitted proposed ordinance language, which was revised and simplified multiple times by Roxbury officials. The changes were approved by voters at town meeting in March. However, because state-required procedural matters weren't followed, voters next OK'd a moratorium on wind power projects to allow more in-depth review.

At Thursday night's meeting, King and Gardiner told planners the matter must be settled this fall.

"If we really pushed hard to do this, the earliest we could do it would be by the end of October," Henry said after the meeting.

The mountain district zone would include portions of Record Hill, Flathead Mountain, Mine Notch, Partridge Peak and North and South Twin mountains at or above an elevation of 1,500 feet. The district would be restricted to wind energy facilities.

The proposed ordinance as written states that wind energy facilities will not be considered as industrial structures, which could be interpreted to mean they can be placed in both the shoreland and general districts. Both districts prohibit industrial structures.

Henry said planners must rework that part of the ordinance and provide a definition of an industrial structure, but they want a lawyer to examine the document to ensure its legality before taking it to special town meeting this fall.

But selectmen, intent on keeping down costs, won't let planners hire a lawyer, Henry said.

"I've been asking for legal representation for the town for six months so we could be doing our due diligence," he said.

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