May 31, 2020
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Union considers rules on wind turbine types

UNION, Maine — John Gibbons and the other four members of the town’s land use ordinance revision committee have drafted an ordinance that would regulate the types of wind turbines that could be allowed in the town.

“The big concern with the windmills is the noise — the sound of the slowly rotating blades,” Gibbons said Thursday. “You get a whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop. Think of barking dogs in the distance on a quiet night — even if it’s not loud, it can be annoying.”

The other concern is light that flickers from the turning blades at certain times of day. This can be controlled by using nonreflective blade colors, said Gibbons, a selectman.

“I don’t think there is any widespread concern of windmills in general, as long as they are properly designed,” he said.

Gibbons said the goal of the ordinance is to give local control over what turbines come into the town of approximately 2,200 people.

The committee has been working on the ordinance since October. The plan is based on a model ordinance that the state is offering municipalities. Union is adapting the model to suit its needs.

The town already has one or two small wind farms, according to Gibbons, who said the hilliness of the town may attract commercial wind farm builders.

Gibbons said he does not expect much opposition to the ordinance.

“There will be some people who are naturally concerned about any regulations of what they can do on their property, but others who are aware of the noise problems happening in other communities will be happy to see regulation,” he said.

Dixmont in Penobscot County and Jackson in Waldo County each recently approved wind turbine ordinances for their towns, which impose strict regulations on industrial wind power developments.

At least four public meetings will be held in Union to address the subject. The first will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the town hall. Residents will vote on the issue June 14 at the town meeting if selectmen put it on the warrant.

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