The wind power project on Beaver Ridge reached a milestone Thursday, Jan. 4, when the Freedom Planning Board signed an order stating the project complied with the town’s commercial development review ordinance.
No vote was required, as the board had voted 5-1 to approve the project in early December. Belfast attorney William Kelly, who represents the board, drafted the formal order in the last month.
It was a watershed moment for Andy Price and the company he represents, Competitive Energy Services of Portland, which is developing the $12 million project. CES says the three 400-foot wind turbines to be erected atop Beaver Ridge will generate enough electricity to power 2,000 Maine homes. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2008.
Before signing the document, board member Prentice Grassi – the lone dissenter in the earlier vote – asked Price if he would be willing to give the planning board two things when they become available: Data on the noise characteristics of the specific turbines that CES buys for Beaver Ridge, and a copy of an engineering survey that will show the exact locations of the turbines and their setbacks from property lines.
While supporting the project as a whole, Grassi has been concerned that CES did not completely prove the wind turbines would meet the town’s noise requirements.
Price agreed to provide the information sought by Grassi.
Members of the planning board spent more than 30 minutes reading the order before they signed it. “It’s my impression that this is the permit they need,” said Bill Pickford, vice chairman of the planning board, as he added his signature to the document.
It wasn’t the only permit needed, however. The process hit a snag when Jay Guber, code enforcement officer for Freedom, asked CES representative Andy Price if he had a $100 check for a building permit.
“Actually I don’t,” said Price, who said he assumed a $100 fee paid months ago by CES to begin the application review process was sufficient.
Guber said the original fee was meant to apply to the commercial development review. Town ordinances treat the building permit as a separate item, he said.
The Planning Board debated the matter for a few minutes, and ultimately decided it was Guber’s call to make.
It appeared as though the $12 million project would be delayed for lack of a C-note. But members of the audience dug into their own wallets and handed Price several twenties to put him over the top.
With smiles all around, Guber signed the permit.
The approval sets the stage for an expected appeal of the decision by Freedom Selectman Steve Bennett and others who own property near the development.
Based in Belfast, Copy Editor Andy Kekacs can be reached at 207-338-0484 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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