The town of Union is in the process of drafting a proposed wind energy ordinance and will hold a public meeting to gather feedback on the issue. The town may even impose a temporary moratorium on wind power facilities to give it time to establish regulations, according to a press release issued by the town Feb. 9.

The town has scheduled a public hearing on the draft wind energy facility regulations for Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Union Town Hall. The committee will likely work on the proposed Wind Energy Facility Ordinance for another month to six weeks and then the ordinance will go to the voters at town meeting June 14.

“In the meantime, the recent controversy over the Fox Islands Wind Project in Vinalhaven has created some doubt about the adequacy of the state’s wind power noise standards, which form part of the basis for Union’s draft ordinance,” the press release said. “For this reason, the town might consider proposing a moratorium on wind power facilities until the standards issue is better understood. Discussion of a temporary moratorium will be on the agenda for the Board of Selectmen meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 16.” The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the town office.

Selectman John Gibbons said some kinds of rhythmic sounds that repeat for hours on end can be very annoying, and that isn’t completely addressed by measuring the loudness alone. Another issue to take into consideration with wind power is the flickering light caused by the sun being seen through the spinning blades.

Last fall, selectmen asked the Land Use Ordinance Revision Committee to develop wind power regulations, and have them ready for a vote at the next town meeting.

“The selectmen were motivated by the rate at which wind towers are being developed all across the state with impetus from the federal and state governments, and the controversy that they have generated where they are already operating,” the press release said. “Although wind towers constitute an undeniable public benefit, they are also sources of noise and other emissions that can be very annoying to neighbors unless they are properly regulated. Currently, the town’s Land Use Ordinance is devoid of any regulations that govern wind towers, and the Union Planning Board and the town’s code officer accordingly have very little power to regulate them.”

So far, the proposed town ordinance is modeled after the state’s wind facility regulations, according to Gibbons.

“The committee plans to modify the language in the state model so that small wind power facilities, suitable for home or farm use, are largely exempt from many of the regulations,” the press release said. “The committee also plans to add language specifically targeted to so-called wind farms, or groups of much larger wind towers that are typically built on the top of a hill or along a ridge line.”

Gibbons said existing wind power facilities may be grandfathered and exempted from the new regulations. He also said there are no new or pending applications before the town for wind power facilities.

A copy of the draft ordinance is available at the town office. There will be at least three additional public hearings on the draft ordinance before it is offered for a vote at the town meeting in June.