Saturday, May 25, 2013
FARMINGTON -- Selectmen will decide tonight whether they should ask voters to amend a recently adopted ordinance that regulates wind energy projects in town.
They were prompted to readdress the issue after some residents complained the local performance standards fail to protect them from negative effects of wind turbines. Voters overwhelmingly passed the ordinance at town meeting last month.
Resident Burt Knapp has been the most outspoken advocate for adjusting the standards, calling on town officials to adopt stricter regulations.
He recently submitted a letter asking selectmen to bring the ordinance back to voters to adopt amendments at a special town meeting, according to Town Manager Richard Davis.
Selectmen will consider his request at their regular meeting at 6:30 tonight in the town office.
Knapp, a physician, told selectmen his biggest concern is the amount of turbine noise that the ordinance deems acceptable at neighbors' property lines.
"I think it's good that the town did pass an ordinance, but it doesn't fit the bill to properly protect the health and safety of residents," he said Monday.
Selectman Andrew Hufnagel on Monday said he is aware of the issues raised by Knapp and remains undecided on whether an amendment is necessary. He noted that town officials behind the new ordinance have defended the regulations, while staying open to possibly making changes if problems arise.
"It seems to me we're really not going to know where we sit until a project comes to Farmington," he said.
Knapp has argued a rural community such as Farmington should have stricter guidelines for noise ordinances, especially for rules tied to wind turbines. He noted Phillips, another slightly more rural community in Franklin County, adopted a 30-decibel level in its version of a wind energy ordinance.
Farmington Planning Board member Tom Eastler has argued that Phillips' rule on turbine noise is meant to prevent wind energy projects entirely, rather than regulating them.
Eastler is a geology professor at University of Maine at Farmington and has been the most outspoken supporter of the town's ordinance, which he helped write.
David F. Robinson - 861-9287