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Industry to hold meeting on wind power ordinance

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A wind power turbine on Kibby Range, in northern Franklin County.

INDUSTRY – Residents will get a chance to learn about a proposed ordinance aimed at regulating the construction of wind power developments on Sept. 20, at a meeting in the Town Hall.

On Thursday, Sept. 20, from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, the Industry Planning Board is hosting the first of two public information meetings to share the work to-date of the Wind Ordinance Committee. This session will follow the scheduled 5:30 p.m. Selectman’s meeting.

An overview of the proposed Wind Ordinance will be presented followed by an open discussion and comment session. The purpose of the meeting is to inform residents and gather public input well ahead of the March 2013 town meeting, when the ordinance will be voted on.

A committee of citizen volunteers, with the planning board, was established six months ago by the Board of Selectmen to create an ordinance that would guide potential wind power developments. At that time, the town voted to place a six-month moratorium on wind power development. In August the Board of Selectmen voted to extend that moratorium an additional six months to allow time to complete the Wind Ordinance.

The proposed Wind Ordinance is focused on protecting public safety, the rights of property owners and the interests of the Town of Industry. Due to the size and scope of an industrial-scale wind farm installation, which can easily extend over several miles, and the compact size of Industry in areas where wind turbines could be productive, balancing safety and property rights is challenging.
Because Industry does not have a Comprehensive Plan, issues such as permitted land uses by zoning areas, designating commercial and industrial use areas, preservation of rural character, or protecting views, are not controllable by the vote of the citizens. Use of the Ordinance system does give residents a means to voice their views as to how the area may be developed.

To adequately protect the interests of residents and the town, the proposed Wind Ordinance that the Committee has developed to-date is based on the issue of public safety.

The ordinance addresses two primary public safety issues: the physical damage large turbines may cause, and the effect of turbine noise on the health and well-being of residents. The ordinance relies on setback distances to achieve public safety.

The planning board and committee have extensively discussed the issues involved in property rights. The developing ordinance places equal value on the right to use property for turbines and the right of surrounding properties to be unencumbered or put at risk by their use.

The experiences of, and lessons learned by Maine towns already hosting wind turbines, the permitting guidelines in use and being refined by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and medical studies on the health and safety effects of noise pollution, have been considered in the crafting of the proposed wind ordinance.

Industry residents are encouraged to attend the information session to learn about the specific details in the proposed Wind Ordinance and share their viewpoints.

For those wishing to make comments for the consideration of the Planning Board but are unable to attend, please leave written comments including a name and address at the Town Hall. Office hours are 1-6 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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