JACKSON, Maine — The Board of Selectmen has decided to extend the town’s moratorium on wind-energy projects for another six months.
The board granted the 180-day extension Tuesday night after meeting with members of the planning board and the subcommittee that drafted a proposed ordinance governing wind-energy applications.
The extension is aimed at giving the planning board the necessary time to review the proposed wind-power ordinance, which the subcommittee plans to submit to the board tonight.
“The purpose is to give the board more time to do the proper research to best benefit the town,” Selectman Cindy Ludden said Wednesday. “We have faith in our planning board.”
The moratorium was put in place in January in response to proposals to erect a series of wind towers along Harris Mountain and Ricker Ridge in Dixmont, Jackson and Thorndike. Voters approved the moratorium by a vote of 84-36 during the special town meeting.
Residents wanted time to study the issue before giving permission to any of the three companies interested in building generating facilities, Ludden said. None of the three towns has received a formal application, although some property owners have reached tentative lease agreements with the firms.
Ludden and Selectman John Work voted in favor of the extension while Selectman David Greeley abstained. Greeley is one of those property owners who has reached agreement with one of the companies.
“I leave alone what Dave does in his private life. It’s up to Dave to do what he’s got to do,” Ludden said. “I’ve worked with Dave for 10 years, and he’s always worked very well for his community, in my opinion.”
Ludden’s sister-in-law, Debbie Ludden, who is a member of the subcommittee that drafted the ordinance, said she was pleased with the board’s decision to grant the extension. She said giving the planning board time to review the ordinance was necessary because it was a detailed document and deserved a detailed review.
“They haven’t had time to digest it. That’s why we wanted to extend the moratorium,” she said. “There’s a lot of information in there, and we’ve done a ton of research.”
Both women acknowledged that the wind power issue has divided the town. The town owns about 300 acres that sit right in the middle of the project. Some in town want to open the land to development while others do not. Others want assurances that if the land is developed, the town should benefit financially from it.
“Some people want it because it would provide tax dollars,” Selectman Cindy Ludden said.
Subcommittee member Debbie Ludden acknowledged that some people would find problems with the ordinance. She said the draft ordinance contains provisions requiring testing and setbacks. She said that the planning board could revise the ordinance before submitting it to the selectmen and that the final document would have to pass muster with the voters.
“We’re all for wind power. I think there are some people in the community who are against it. I’m one who believes in green power, but I want it done responsibly,” she said. “It’s a hard ordinance. I’ll be honest, it’s going to make the wind companies do some things. It’s complicated, but I think it’s a good starting point for the town.”