CLIFTON, Maine —– There were so many residents at Wednesday’s special town meeting about imposing a wind energy moratorium, that the meeting was moved outside.
After taking several votes about whether to vote on the proposed moratorium, one resident moved for the vote, which was endorsed by basically everyone, and the 162 residents formed a line to cast simple yes or no ballots inside the town hall.
Residents defeated the proposed wind energy moratorium, 86-75, town officials said.
Crystal Phillips, who started a citizen’s petition calling for the moratorium, said not enough research into wind farms has been done.
“We were concerned because people didn’t know about it,” she said. “We felt we needed more time.”
She said the new land use ordinance, which was endorsed by residents on June 8 and includes 28 pages dedicated to wind energy, has no restrictions on the number of towers allowed, density or height limits.
Bangor businessman Paul Fuller and his wife, Sandy, purchased 270 acres on Pisgah Mountain to build a wind farm. Both were at the meeting, along with Bangor business partner Mike Smith.
The developers are planning to put up four 1.6- or 2.5-megawatt GE wind turbines on the mountain.
“Now I know I can move ahead and spend the money to get the permitting process underway,” Fuller said after the votes were tallied. “That will take three to four months.”
The proposed wind farm project has a $15 million price tag, which means the town would get around $165,000 annually from property taxes if the project goes forward.
Even though Fuller and Smith have not presented town leaders with any official plans, the business partners have offered to provide the town with a $5,000 stipend per megawatt, which would equal $32,000 to $50,000 annually, based on the turbine size.
The proposed 400-foot towers would be visible from nearby roadways, but the closest residence to where the towers are planned is around a mile away, Fuller said.
Nicolette Yerxa and Stephen Berry, who recently bought a home in town, said they strongly support wind energy.
“We both are for wind power and are here to see it happen when ever and where ever it can,” Yerxa said, while holding the couple’s 3-month-old daughter. “I can’t image being opposed to wind power.”
Berry has been working for at the AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the Univer-sity of Maine, where deep-water offshore windmills are being designed, and plans a future working with wind energy.
Elsie Butterfield, who has lived in town for 17 years, said she planned to vote for the moratorium.
“I’m not against windmills, but I’m against rushing into it,” she said.
Her son, Noah Cameron, said he was worried about animals, especially birds, which might be im-pacted by the wind turbines. Both mother and son also said they thought 400-foot wind turbines would negatively effect the pristine look of the town.
“Basically, there are more cons than pros,” Cameron said.
Fuller said wind is a natural resource that produces green energy. After hearing that the moratorium was defeated, he was relieved.
“We did it,” he told a group of supporters who hung around to hear the vote results.
Some of the people who proposed the moratorium, were not happy with the results, especially since the ballots did not list the question residents voted on.
“This is not the end,” one said.
While the votes were being counted, Selectwoman Penny Peasley said she was happy with the turnout.
“I am so impressed with the people who turned out and care about the town,” she said.