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The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Fort Fairfield Town Council Approves Wind Ordinance


1-Mile Setback Effectively Halts Commercial Wind Production in Town



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By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, September 30, 2015


   The Fort Fairfield town council voted to approve the commercial wind power ordinance on September 16 for their regular council meeting.   Before the meeting commenced, council chair Jason Barnes addressed comments received in a letter that called his objectivity into question on the wind issue due to his employment with Smith Farms, who the letter writer alleges may have an interest in commercial wind development in Fort Fairfield.

   “I have been employed by the Smith family for 26 years.  The Smith entities do in fact own a considerable amount of agricultural land in Fort Fairfield.  Smiths did meet with Horizon Wind Energy in 2007 or 2008 and were displayed leases for potential development.  Smiths declined the offer and the subject of wind energy has not been discussed since,” said Barnes.  “Further, I am nearing the end of my third year of this council term and Smiths have never questioned me or had any input to my position on this council.  Therefore, I feel no conflict exists and with clear conscious will remain in discussions and have my vote.  I feel the person that was writing this did it to intimidate me and perhaps other council members and I find it insulting and an attack on my integrity.”

   There were no comments on the wind ordinance allowed during the council’s public comment period.    

   “We have decided we will not be taking public comments with relation to the ordinance,” said Barnes.  “The reason being, we had a public hearing and we have accepted all forms of communications up to six o’clock today on that issue.”

   John Herold, who, along with David McCrea, also sat on the Wind Power Technical Advisory Committee, made a motion to accept the wind ordinance, which was seconded by David McCrea, wherein a short discussion period ensued.  In his opening comments on the ordinance, Herold noted the decision was not about being pro- or anti-wind power.

  “It is about seeing to the welfare and well-being of the citizens and residents of Fort Fairfield.  It's not perfect.  The twelve people on the committee are human, they're not perfect.  Having said that, we tried to make it as good as we could.  We went over and over things, we discussed things at great length, did a bunch of research and it's as good as we can come up with right now.  However, it can be changed in the future.  It's not chiseled in stone, it's not any kind of sacred, sacrosanct document.  Like any other ordinance it can be changed.”

  Council member, Sue LeVasseur said she wants to see progress in Fort Fairfield, but not at the expense of quality of life.  “I want to see our town grow.  But I don't want to throw it under the bus, either,” she said.  I want everybody aware that if it's passed tonight there are choices to make at a later date.  I'd like to have the people here realize that.”

   Council member, David McCrea said he thinks a majority of the town wanted rules and indicated that's what this ordinance is.  “We created standards and it is absolutely true if circumstance change, if the industry goes a different path and becomes easier to live with - if you will - if any of those things change, if there are things that should be brought forth to a future council, future planning board, future - whatever - absolutely it can be readdressed.  What local law in this town couldn't be changed by enough of you people;  or, enough of us (council members)?  I think that's kind of where we are.  It's not like it's cast in stone, it isn't cast in stone.  I hope it's not cast in stone.  I hope if something comes down the line that we really want to live with, that is good for everybody, not just the ones that would financially benefit because of owning the land - I know that that's a factor and don't take that lightly.”

   Barnes, who ended up being the only dissenting vote on the ordinance, expressed some concerns he had with it.  “The ordinance addresses essential elements that should be included in an ordinance.  I have no disagreement with that.  But the question I have that I've been struggling with are the stringent criteria for a developer.  I feel they may be too stringent to consider proposing a project in this town.  I also struggle with what benefits could be gained by the development and does the ordinance send any negative message to any other industry or business that could possibly consider Fort Fairfield as a location.  The town's struggling to maintain what we have.  We're facing increased property taxes, we have stagnant growth, we have exiting of our youth and others due to a lack of opportunities.  For me, the questions and the factors that form my opinion on the ordinance, I felt it should be changed.”

   The wind ordinance passed with no amendments to its proposed language by a vote of 4-1.  The one-mile setback from non-participating property owners remained intact.  With Fort Fairfield measuring 2 miles wide by twelve miles long, the one mile setback effectively halts any form of commercial wind development in Fort Fairfield for the foreseeable future.


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