Ordinance would protect Frankfort

By Steve Imondi, Special to the BDN
Posted Nov. 24, 2011, at 9:10 p.m.

A new wind company named Eolian Renewable Energy wants to put wind turbines on Mount Waldo. The company has stated how it wants to be “open,” “engaging all” the citizens of Frankfort before doing so. Here are just some of the facts:

Eolian started its testing on Mount Waldo in November 2010 but didn’t inform townspeople until March 2011. Residents were finally informed after our select board wouldn’t sign the necessary paper for Eolian to receive tax subsidies without first getting approval from Frankfort citizens.

Eolian held an informational meeting to sell this proposal to the town. It sent out a mass-mailing to most residents, but neglected to inform at least four dozen homeowners who live closest to Mount Waldo and would be most affected by this project. Why? Perhaps they didn’t want anyone at their meeting who might be critical of their proposal.

This project will have an enormous effect on Frankfort, yet Eolian didn’t want the town to have a six-month moratorium to look into any negative effects these massive turbines might have on its residents.

Only a week after the moratorium was put into place Eolian showed its lack of respect for the town’s wishes by petitioning our select board, through the company’s lawyer, to continue its testing.

Eolian then sent out a survey asking the townspeople’s opinion about this project. Again, many of the same citizens who would be most affected didn’t receive this survey. Those results were never made public.

Both our planning board and select board were asked to consider a contract proposed by Eolian that could nullify the ordinance being considered. Most townspeople don’t even know this contract exists. Thankfully our elected officials said no to this request.

Instead of answering real questions with real answers, at public meetings, Eolian’s idea of being “open,” “transparent” and “engaging all” of Frankfort’s citizens was hiring a public relations firm to “reintroduce themselves.” They thought having a pig roast while “third party experts” explained the project was a good enough substitute.

Now, after a full year of dealing with Eolian, we know as much about this project as we did last November — virtually nothing: four to six turbines, possibly more according to Eolian’s proposed contract; some short-term, part-time jobs, maybe, if Eolian’s contractors, Reed and Reed, can find anyone local who is qualified with the expertise to do the necessary work.

Are we willing to take a chance with a company that hasn’t put up a single turbine anywhere and has shown consistently it doesn’t really want to be open or engage all of Frankfort’s citizens? Are we going to allow Frankfort and the jewel of Waldo County (Mt Waldo) to be Eolian’s guinea pig?

Frankfort, the eyes of Waldo County are on us. I know because I’ve spoken to hundreds of people from surrounding towns and most can’t believe that we would even consider this. Your families, friends and neighbors need your help to protect them.

We only have one chance at getting this right. This is not a game and there’s no second chance. Once these turbines are put up there’s no turning back for at least 20 years. How many neighbors are we willing to throw under the bus if this project goes forward without an ordinance that will actually protect our community?

Look how this has already torn our town in two. Ask the people of Freedom, Mars Hill or Vinalhaven if this changes with time. Wind turbines have left open wounds in these towns that will most likely never heal, where lifelong friends, neighbors and family members no longer speak or even look at each other.

If Eolian had its choice the citizens of Frankfort wouldn’t even be voting on this project, but we are. I can go to sleep at night knowing this. Remember these facts before you vote, than please vote yes on Thursday, Dec. 1 to protect Frankfort.

Steve Imondi, a Waldo County resident for 25 years, was co-chairman of the committee that wrote Frankfort’s wind ordinance.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/11/24/opinion/contributors/ordinance-would-protect-frankfort/ printed on July 22, 2014