NORRIDGEWOCK — Voters at the annual Town Meeting this week approved a moratorium that will pause commercial solar energy projects in town so that officials have time to determine whether adequate rules are in place for regulating solar ventures.

The moratorium was among 44 articles on the Town Meeting warrant, which also included municipal elections and the approval of a $2.45 million town budget.

The town earlier OK’d three large commercial solar facilities. One is under construction and work has not begun on the other two. Town Manager Richard LaBelle said Tuesday that developers for those two projects have said they plan to begin work shortly. The moratorium adopted Monday does not apply to them because they received permits for the work beforehand.

Monday’s action came after the town saw an increasing interest from applicants in building commercial solar farms. Town leaders sought the moratorium so that they have time to review existing state and other regulations, and the implications on the town and residents.

Other communities, including Belgrade, also have sought to temporarily halt solar and wind farms to ensure they are prepared to regulate them.

In other business, the $2.45 million municipal budget includes an increase in expenses largely driven by the rising cost of labor and energy, though the spending plan before voters this week was less than 2021.


“Considering local revenues, the net to tax is $979,000,” LaBelle said. “There is also an increase in forecasted state revenues, which then ultimately reduces the municipal portion of tax commitment to $450,000.”

The town also is benefiting from the Waste Management Crossroads Landfill, a significant revenue generator for the town that has increased host fees and rates.

Major funding requests in the budget include $666,300 for public works, $379,565 for administration, $233,499 for the Fire Department and $119,032 for public safety.

Also on Monday, the Select Board was given the OK to spend up to $341,000 in federal pandemic relief aid, but only after public hearings are held to review the funding proposals.

In local elections, incumbents Charlotte Curtis, Matthew Everett, Lindsey Lynch and James Lyman were reelected to their seats on the Select Board. Ronald Frederick, a longtime member of the board, did not run for reelection after serving for 17 years but won the fifth opening on the board through write-in votes.

Frederick as of Tuesday had not decided whether to accept the write-in position, LaBelle said.

Katherine Wilder and Samantha Delorie were elected to serve on the Skowhegan-based School Administrative District 54 board of directors.

Ruth Keister and John Lynch were elected to serve on the town budget committee.

Robbie Bickford, Kristina Gossman and Ruth Keister were elected to the sewer commission.

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