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by Bette Britt
“I am here because I believe that my town needs to create a wind power ordinance,” declared Nicole Gray as she read from a prepared statement on Thursday, October 7.
She was the first of nearly a dozen community members who spoke during a public hearing at the Sedgwick town house, and her words sparked an hour-long dialogue on the issue of wind power development in Sedgwick.
Brooksville residents will vote on November 2 on whether to enact a 180-day moratorium on such development. If approved, the moratorium would give an as-yet-to-be named panel that much time to write a town ordinance setting standards for wind power development.
“An ordinance would insure an application process that is transparent, protects the town financially and [has] a code of ethics to avoid conflicts of interest from being part of the process,” Gray said.
Those speaking in favor of a moratorium at the meeting were in the majority.
“Once towers go up, they won’t come down,” said Dennis Desilvey, who introduced himself as the town’s health officer.
Desilvey said he’s seen 450-foot wind towers in Europe, but acknowledged there are “quieter, smaller” 150-foot turbines in other places over there.
Paul Trowbridge of Peninsula Power, a volunteer community organization exploring the feasibility of harnessing wind power in Sedgwick, has said his group is neutral on the question of a moratorium.
The reason is because the time it would take his group to complete a feasibility study would most likely be longer than a moratorium would last.
At the October 7 meeting, Trowbridge said Peninsula Power aims to determine both the benefits and downside of wind power and called a town ordinance that sets standards for wind power development “a fine idea.”
Trowbridge encouraged those present to be open-minded and consider, with his group, whether wind power might help the community and the local school.
To us, Trowbridge said, it’s “a discussion, a beginning, a study….We are not First Wind or Trans-Canada.”
The process of drafting an ordinance, Trowbridge said, would give the town an opportunity to learn about the benefits of wind power as well as its perceived problems, like noise.
Some voiced outright opposition to the notion of harnessing wind power in the town.
Claiming Maine already produces more electricity than it needs, Peter Douvarjo said the town doesn’t need to generate electricity. “We’d end up paying for it - and no one in Sedgwick is going to benefit from it,” he said.
“It doesn’t belong in a small town,” another man said, mentioning problems that he said are experienced by “regular folks” who live on Vinalhaven. “No one wants to live near them.”
Peter Neall said noise level has to be considered for a greater distance than is often described and that the presence of towers devalues land.
Desilvey urged those who might be charged with writing a wind tower ordinance to carefully consider size, scale, noise level and anything else that will be affected when setting standards for a wind farm in Sedgwick.