OTIS — During a brief public hearing on Monday evening, Otis residents voiced unanimous opposition to commercial wind development in the town.
“I love the area,” said William Grindle. “It’s pretty much undisturbed and it should stay that way.”
The hearing was concerning an ordinance, recently adopted by the Planning Board, that would effectively ban industrial wind development in the town.
The new rule would be one of the strictest in the state, said Planning Board Vice Chairman Tricia Dyer, and is modeled on an ordinance in Dedham.
“It’s going to eliminate any commercial wind farms from being put in the town of Otis,” Dyer said.
The public hearing was held to give residents a chance to ask questions about the ordinance before it goes to a full vote at Town Meeting on May 11.
The idea for an ordinance arose after Paul Fuller, who developed a wind farm on Pisgah Mountain in Clifton several years ago, came to Otis last summer to propose putting up turbines off Otis Road. No developer came forward to speak at the meeting on Monday evening.
Other residents who spoke on Monday were all in agreement, with many citing the region’s undisturbed vistas as one of its primary assets.
“People don’t want to look out … and see wind towers,” Grindle said. “I’m not saying they’re the devil but they don’t benefit communities they’re in.” He added: “You’ll never see them where people have clout.”
“We’re ripping out all of our dams and putting these silly things up,” said resident Joseph Seavey.
“They’re going to build roads, they’re going to blow up ledge, they’re going to interfere with the aquifers, the wildlife. There’s nothing good about it.”
Several residents also questioned the environmental benefits of such development and wondered whether the power would be sold in Maine or elsewhere in New England.
Maine is part of a wholesale electricity market, in which power is sold region-wide. Per-capita residential electricity use in the state is below the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This is in part because only 1 in 20 residents use electricity as a primary heating source and because mild summers mean household use of air conditioning is low, according to the administration.
The “state of Maine is pretty enough,” said resident Joyce Coombs. “We don’t need any artificial things sticking out of the ground.”