By Carol McCracken
The planning board voted last night to approve an amendment to forward to the city council for its consideration and action in July. If approved, the amendment would be added to most zones in the City of Portland. Its possible inclusion will prepare the way for alternative energy proposals that probably will be submitted to the City in the future.
Although the vote was unanimously in favor of the “text amendment” regarding wind anemometers, not all board members agreed with it as written. Planning Board member and Hill resident, Joe Lewis, has children attending the East End Community School. He expressed concern that an anemometer could fall over and injure children attending the school or other people in the area.
During the public comment time, residents of the Hill spoke out on both sides of the issue. George LaPoint who has children attending EECS supported the wind anemometer study. Another Hill resident with children attending EECS, John Mahoney supported the amendment saying “there are impacts with oil as well as wind power. There are no health issues with anemometers, just wind turbines.”
Residents of Promenade Towers on the Eastern Promenade and near the School, have opposed this project from the start. A petition opposed to the anemometer was signed by 64 residents of Promenade Towers and delivered to the city during the day. It asked the Planning Board not to approve the amendment to allow the wind study because: (1) The tower and guy-wires are a safety risk to children and the neighborhood, (2) It would be an eyesore and (3) It ‘s a precursor to a permanent wind turbine – too close to many residents in the area. The president of the PT board, Jim Zafirson, spoke in opposition to the anemometer study as did another resident John Rastl, also a board member. He pointed out that if the study is unsuccessful, then a lot of money will have been wasted.
Temporary chair Lee Lowry II said approval of this amendment would be an “enabling” thing for the future of Portland. “Although this amendment was triggered by two projects, East End Community School and one on Peaks Island, this amendment does not apply to specific sites. Technology is constantly changing and in the future may be a lot smaller.”
The City is in the process of researching and writing an ordinance which is expected to be completed this fall.