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Newfound towns seek protection through Community Rights

To The Daily Sun,

There has been much discussion in the past few months about local residents in the Newfound Region pursuing a Community Rights Based Ordinance (RBO) for our towns. An RBO is simply a Community Bill of Rights that, once passed, becomes a binding law within the town. The RBO defines the rights that the residents of a town proclaim for the purpose of protecting the town from unwanted corporate harm. The concept is so simple: no expensive, divisive, land use zoning to pit one neighbor against another - just a Bill of Rights that protect the residents from specific "corporate harm."

In the Newfound Region, towns pursuing an RBO are seeking to protect ourselves and our ecosystems from the damaging effects of energy systems that are controlled by state and federal energy policies, rather than community controlled energy policies, such as industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated. A Community Bill of Rights takes the argument away from regulating the industrial wind energy project and makes it an argument about our right, as a community, to say, "No, not at all, we don't allow it in our town when it violates our rights as defined in the RBO."

A few Newfound towns have placed a Large Wind Energy System Ordinance (LWES) on their warrant in hopes of preventing industrial wind from invading their towns. Some believe that the LWES ordinance "saved" Temple and New Ipswich from the project planned on their ridgelines, so it will "save" their town too.

You have to understand that the project proposed for Temple and New Ipswich is too small to be decided by the state Site Evaluation Committee, and therefore was subject to local land use ordinances. A strict LWES was designed and implemented for Temple and New Ipswich, and was a major reason it has been difficult for the developer to pursue the project there. Not to mention, there is a major migratory route for raptors on the proposed ridgeline that does not exist to such an extent anywhere else in New England. If a proposed industrial wind project is greater than 30 megawatts total, then the SEC will have the final say over the project. An LWES may deter, or delay a permit issued by the SEC, but it will never give residents the right to say, "No, not at all." Keep in mind that the developer for the project proposed for Temple and New Ipswich has not withdrawn. They are still trying to "strike a deal" and work around, or within, the LWES ordinance.

There are currently seven Community Rights Based Ordinances (RBOs) in New Hampshire protecting residents and ecosystems from various threats such as: industrial wind, water extraction, fracking, and sludge. Not one of the towns that has passed the RBO is fighting a developer. In every town, the developer has walked away, withdrawn — no lawsuit, no "striking a deal," just up and leave.

Developers have and will argue local land use ordinances for years and years to come, but not one developer in the state of New Hampshire has argued against an RBO. They would have to take the town to court and publicly strip the residents of each right defined in the RBO, and that just isn't good public relations. For a corporate developer to publicly proclaim through a court of law that they have more rights to destroy the community we live in, than we do to protect the community we live in, would do a lot to hurt their good neighbor policy. Local land use ordinances are not personal, but a Community Bill of Rights is.

Many believe the passage of a Community Rights Based Ordinance (RBO) in the town of Grafton in March 2013 is the reason why they were dropped from the Wild Meadows Wind Project. Some actually believe the developer — that the wind is not as good in Grafton, and there are too many wetlands. Are you aware that there is only about 6 feet difference in height from the peaks in Grafton versus the peaks in Danbury and Alexandria?

And where is the Newfound watershed? Last I knew, it is located in Alexandria, not Grafton. So you can believe the developers that have already lied to each and every one of us when they said they would not force the Wild Meadows Project upon us? Or you can do a little research and learn their words are just blowing in the wind.

Michelle Sanborn

Alexandria

 
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