Eastbrook to vote on wind turbine ordinance

Posted Jan. 18, 2011, at 8:44 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:52 a.m.

EASTBROOK, Maine — Prompted by a pending proposal from First Wind to construct an 80-megawatt commercial wind farm on and around Bull Hill, residents will get the chance Wednesday, Jan. 19, to vote on whether the town should adopt a wind energy facility ordinance.

The vote is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Eastbrook town office on Route 200.

The proposed ordinance would establish operating and construction standards for any such wind farm. Part of the project First Wind is proposing would be in neighboring Township 16, but only the portion that would be in Eastbrook would be subject to the local ordinance. The Township 16 part is subject to review and possible subsequent approval by the state Land Use Regulation Commission.

Tom Martin, a planner with Hancock County Planning Commission, has been assisting Eastbrook in drafting the proposed ordinance. Martin said Tuesday that the town’s current land use ordinances do not permit wind turbines to be erected in Eastbrook.

“It is not an allowed use,” Martin said.

The proposed wind energy facility ordinance, if approved, would not affect or establish any financial arrangement between First Wind and Eastbrook, officials have said. Officials with the town and with First Wind have indicated that the town is interested in establishing a tax increment financing district and a community benefit fund with the town if the project moves forward.

Officials have said a TIF district for the wind farm likely would reserve a certain percentage of the company’s local taxes for specific municipal projects and return the remainder of the company’s local tax payments to First Wind. A community benefit fund likely would establish an annual payment by First Wind to the town of several thousand dollars for each turbine it erects in Eastbrook, officials have said.

Among the proposed Eastbrook ordinance’s provisions would be a requirement that any turbine be at least one mile from any home, residential facility or other types of location specifically listed in the document. Also, no part of any allowable turbine could extend more than 500 feet in the air.

By comparison, the top deck of the tower observatory in the Penobscot Narrows Bridge near Bucksport is 437 feet above the Penobscot River, which is the equivalent height of a 43-story building, according to the Maine Department of Conservation.

The 37-page proposed ordinance, including four appendices, also would establish noise standards, safety setback distances, erosion control measures, and decommissioning requirements, as well as other provisions.

A copy of the proposed ordinance can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/gFAXTF.

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