The Freedom Planning Board postponed its final public hearing on a controversial, $12 million wind power project to ensure that all abutting property owners received adequate notice of the meeting.
The possibility the matter could end up in court has spurred the board to take a cautious approach as it moves toward a decision on the Beaver Ridge project.
Before the public hearing scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, was formally opened, Bill Pickford told other Planning Board members, “We do not have a legal public hearing here tonight. The abutters have not been notified as required by the [Freedom commercial development review] ordinance.”
Added Pickford: “I think we don’t dare to get involved with [taking any] information or public comments.”
Planning Board Chairman Nancy Bailey Farrar said the hearing would be rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, at either the Freedom Congregational Church or the Town Office.
The board also canceled its scheduled meeting of Nov. 15, but reaffirmed its meeting of Nov. 29, when it would likely deliberate on the wind power application and possibly make a decision. The board has until early December to rule on the project.
Competitive Energy Services of Portland has proposed to erect three wind turbines on Beaver Ridge to generate electricity for sale throughout New England. According to CES, the turbines would generate enough energy to power 2,000 Maine households at a cost slightly higher than the CMP standard rate per kilowatt-hour.
If approved, construction would begin in spring 2008. The wind turbines would be set atop three 262-foot towers. Each turbine would be spun by three blades measuring about 130 feet in length.
Freedom voters have signaled strong approval for the project, but the sentiment is not universal. Selectman Steve Bennett and several of his relatives own property near the proposed site, and Bennett is a vocal opponent of the project.
The proposed wind farm would be located on a 76-acre parcel owned by Ron Price of Knox. The site surrounds a 23-acre lot Bennett bought a number of years ago. There are more than a dozen other abutters to the project.
By Andy Kekacs
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding