Maine, NY towns working on wind-farm regulations

Posted Oct. 22, 2008, at 6:18 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:17 a.m.

LINCOLN – The Planning Board doesn’t believe a moratorium on wind farms, or new regulations regarding massive wind turbines, are necessary, but other Maine and upstate New York towns disagree, a news survey revealed Wednesday.

Board Vice Chairman B. Michael Ireland said a moratorium such as the board would consider would delay the project six months – not eliminate it.

“We have to see what they want to do in order to judge it properly,” Ireland, a land-use permitting environmental consultant, said at a board meeting on Tuesday.

Board members readily admitted that they hadn’t any experience dealing with wind turbines, but said it would be their responsibility to learn. Lincoln’s land-use laws are comprehensive enough to make further regulations regarding wind farms unnecessary, Ireland said.

The board, Ireland said, will also rely upon Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection to help evaluate the project. First Wind requires permits from DEP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn, the towns in which its proposed $120 million Rollins Mountain wind farm would be built.

Fort Kent is pondering a one-year moratorium on wind farms and Wallagrass, Byron, and Roxbury have passed moratoriums, said Lisa Linowes of Industrial Wind Action Group, an anti-windpower advocacy organization in New Hampshire.

In upstate New York, Newfield has a moratorium on wind development, Farmersville is introducing one, and Ithaca recently approved residential turbine regulations, a nexis.com search revealed Wednesday.

Common threads run through New York towns’ concerns: the lack of information about wind farms, their potential adverse impacts and how best to glean economic benefits from them.

Upstate New York has at least six farms, with at least six more being pursued, similar to the Mars Hill wind farm First Wind of Massachusetts built last year. First Wind is building a farm on Stetson Mountain and hopes to build a $120 million farm on Rollins Mountain in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn next year.

“We’re trying to get a law in place before a developer comes,” Hammond, New York Town Councilman Ronald Tully told the Watertown Daily Times on Oct. 14. “We’re trying to be proactive.”

Hammond has yet to be approached by a developer, Tully said.

Major New York concerns regard set-back zones, which determine where a turbine can be constructed, property taxes and revenue from the turbines. According to the Ithaca Journal, Enfield, New York recently proposed a law setting wind turbine setbacks 450 feet from buildings and 100 feet from property lines.

It requires a computerized photographic visual impact study, a sound pressure and noise analysis study, and a study on the effect that “shadow flicker” – created by rotating blades and sunlight – would have on nearby residents.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether Maine DEP requires such studies, but the more than 500 pages of incomplete DEP permit application that First Wind officials displayed at Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting testified to the company’s thoroughness and willingness to comply with state laws, a spokesman said.

nsambides@bangordailynews.net

794-8215

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