May 20, 2018
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Frankfort adopts wind moratorium

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

FRANKFORT, Maine — Although residents voted earlier this week to put a six-month halt on all wind development in Frankfort, a representative from New Hampshire-based Eolian Renewable Energy said that the company hasn’t stopped its plan to place several turbines atop Mount Waldo.

“We’re going to continue to work with town officials and the whole community, really, to develop hopefully a fair and balanced ordinance,” Travis Bullard of Eolian said Wednesday. “We’re ready to work with everybody is the bottom line.”

The special town meeting on Monday lasted about three hours and drew 89 votes in favor of the moratorium and 37 votes against, said Erin-Kate Sousa, who is one of six people on a new committee formed to develop a wind ordinance.

“The vote shows the town feels we need to address this,” she said Friday.

Frankfort, a community which until now has had no zoning ordinances at all, has 180 days to develop what Sousa said will be a “very specific ordinance.” Once that is written, residents will have the chance to decide whether or not to adopt it.

The moratorium efforts were spurred by the small energy company’s desire to build a $25 million, 10-megawatt wind project on the mountain. Eolian would erect four to six wind turbines on land that it leased there from a private landowner beginning several months ago.

The company’s introductory presentation in March drew more than 100 people to Frankfort Elementary School, many of whom stated then that they were concerned about a wind project going up in their community.

Sousa and several others spent time this spring going door-to-door to obtain signatures for a petition asking for the moratorium vote. They needed fewer than 50 signatures and obtained 99, according to a prior BDN report. The latest census figures show that about 1,100 people live in the community.

She said the moratorium was similar to others that have been adopted in Maine towns. Like those, it also stops all wind-related tests for its six-month duration.

The six members of the new committee will work in consultation with the Frankfort Planning Board, and the first joint meeting will be held on June 14. At that time, a Unity College wind expert will present some background information to the attendees, Sousa said.

She said that a major concern she has heard is the fact that the Eolian site is located on privately-owned land.

“Nobody wants to start regulating what people can do on their private property,” Sousa said. “But this is something that’s going to affect more people than just the landowner. In the end, whatever happens, the town will decide. No one’s saying yes or no at this point. The moratorium is just more time.”

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