By Mary Standard, Special to the Sun Journal
PERU — The Wind Ordinance Committee agreed Tuesday night to use Rumford’s ordinance on wind-power projects as a model.
The committee has been meeting since last fall to develop regulations to govern wind farms.
EDP Renewables North America LLC of Houston, Texas, received a permit in October 2011 to place a meteorological test tower off Black Mountain Road near the Sumner town line. The company is considering building possibly 25 to 35 turbines, a representative told the committee early this month.
A month after the permit was approved, the town passed a six-month moratorium on projects to allow time for an ordinance to be adopted.
Chairman Bill Hine repeatedly asked the panel Tuesday if they didn’t want wind power in town, and if they just object to the sound and visual aspects of turbines.
“I don’t want to continue researching the sound issue, if visual is the problem,” he said.
No one said they wanted to ban wind power, and there was no agreement on setback distances.
“Anything less than 2 miles and you won’t sleep,” member Philip Bretz said.
“They should be far enough away so you only hear a whisper,” member Jim Pulsifer said.
He said the committee had no right to limit what people could do with their land.
“We need to be careful that we don’t put unreasonable restrictions so it looks like we are banning them,” he said.
Members Steve Fuller and J.R. Worthington asked if they could have a three-year moratorium on wind projects. That would give time to see how those already established are doing and how wind companies are responding to complaints, Fuller said.
Pulsifer answered that the courts might consider that “unreasonable. You can’t outright ban them,” he said.
“We could go to townwide zoning to limit all industrialization,” Hine said.
Member Rick Childs said it’s not a black-and-white issue.
“I remember the first satellite dishes sitting in everyone’s yard. They were huge and unsightly,” he said. “Now with improved technology, they are tiny and are almost invisible.”
Most of the committee members agreed that in three years, wind farms may look completely different than they do now.
Regarding visual impact of wind turbines, member Warren MacFawn said the Redding Township project was rejected because it was within 8 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Pulsifer wanted to know what benefits the town would get from a wind farm.
Hine suggested the committee check the Internet for information on the Spruce Mountain project in Woodstock and with that town.
Member Kevin Benedict suggested the committee do an analysis of the pros and cons. The committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays during March.