JACKSON, Maine — The town’s Board of Selectmen will meet tonight to consider extending a moratorium on wind energy projects for another six months.
Town Clerk Brenda Dennison said the board believes it needs additional time as it weighs a proposed ordinance regulating wind energy projects as well as two petitions dealing with the process.
The moratorium was put in place last January and was extended for 180 days in June. It is scheduled to expire next month. The moratorium’s intent was to give the town time to prepare an ordinance regulating wind projects. The planning board delivered its proposed ordinance to the selectmen in November.
“The selectmen have received the ordinance, but have taken no action on it,” Dennison said Monday.
The public hearing on extending the ordinance will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, at the town office, she said.
Dennison said that a planning board subcommittee performed “the legwork and research” on the proposed ordinance and that the board drafted the final document. She said the ordinance deals with setbacks and other controls on wind energy projects.
“I can’t say people are against wind energy — they just want a lot of restrictions on it,” Dennison said.
The two petitions were delivered to the town earlier this month. One was signed by about one-third of the town’s 389 registered voters, the other by 32 voters.
Dennison said the first petition asks the selectmen to hold a special town meeting for the purpose of voting on the planning board ordinance. If the ordinance fails to win voter approval, the petition asks that the document be sent back to the board for revision. A third question on the petition asks voters to extend the moratorium.
The other petition asks the selectmen to draft an alternative ordinance and requests a special town meeting where that ordinance and the one proposed by the planning board would be voted on.
Dennison said the requirements for posting notices for meetings and drawing up town meeting warrants extend beyond the Jan. 2 wind energy moratorium expiration date and are the reason the board is considering another six-month extension.
The moratorium was enacted in response to proposals to erect a series of wind towers along Mount Harris and Ricker Ridge in Jackson, Dixmont and Thorndike, a project that could represent an investment of $40 million to $70 million. The town owns about 300 acres that sit in the middle of the project. Some in town want to open that land for development while others do not.
Dennison said a moratorium extension would give the selectmen time to have proposals ready by the annual town meeting in March.
Dixmont voters in November approved an ordinance requiring a 1-mile setback between wind turbines and homes.