Franklin Countys First News

New Sharon special town meeting to take up Energy Systems Ordinance on Sept. 15

Residents at a special town meeting back in January voted to enact a six-month moratorium on elective transmission line projects.

NEW SHARON - A special town meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow evening, with residents asked to weigh in on a new Energy Systems Ordinance and the acceptance of the Congregational Church and Vestry property.

The meeting will be held outdoors in the Cape Cod Hill School parking lot on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m., with a rain date scheduled for Sept. 22. Residents are asked to wear face coverings and socially distance, as well as bring their own chairs. The warrant for the meeting can be found here.

New Sharon has maintained a moratorium on transmission line projects since January, prohibiting any permitting or other approval processes relating to such projects. This includes the New England Clean Energy Connect project proposed by Central Maine Power.

The Energy Systems Ordinance, a 49-page document that can be found on the town's website, would establish regulations for wind and solar power facilities, as well as transmission corridors. The ordinance requires that electric transmission facilities and corridors be no closer than half a mile from occupied structures or scenic or special resources, as defined by the town's Comprehensive Plan, and that transmission corridor infrastructure not exceed 45 feet in height.

The ordinance also sets maximum decibel requirements for wind, solar or transmission line projects, mandates the approval of a fire prevention plan by the local fire department and requires other assessments, such as a road use and traffic safety plan and a visual impact assessment. The visual impact assessment, which would submitted as part of the initial application by the developer, would answer the question: 'Would this particular project result in undue harm to valuable aesthetic resources within the town of New Sharon?' according to the ordinance.

The ordinance includes specific requirements as well, such as setting a maximum height limit for wind energy infrastructure at 200 feet, as well as addressing issues such as shadow flicker. Ground-mounted solar energy systems could be required to be completely enclosed by chain-link fencing. Developers would need to show proof of adequate funding to decommission projects within 12 months of ceasing to function, as well as maintaining general liability insurance.

The ordinance can be read in its entirety here.

The warrant also includes an article that would allow New Sharon to accept the Congregational Church and Vestry, located at 21 and 25 Cape Cod Hill Road, as a gift. The town has been using that space as a temporary town office as its new facility, which will combine town office space with a fire station, is being constructed nearby.

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