FREEDOM – After more than a year of debate, members of the Planning Board on Thursday night approved a Portland company’s bid to erect three electricity generating wind turbines on Beaver Ridge.
But, according to a neighbor who has opposed the project, town approval was easier than state approval will be.
The board spent less than an hour deliberating Competitive Energy Services’ $10 million plan, which includes building three, 400-foot wind turbines on property leased from Ron Price.
The board’s primary concern focused on proving that Price and the company had a lease in place.
The board then had to determine whether the project was three separate structures requiring a $300 permit fee, or one, $100 structure.
“As far as you’re concerned, they’ve met all the aspects of the application?” board member Bill Pickford asked Code Enforcement Officer Jay Guber.
“Absolutely,” Guber replied.
Though the meeting was not a public hearing, the board agreed to accept comments from Steve Bennett, an abutter most vocally opposed the project.
Bennett, in a letter, laid out three reasons why he believed the board should reject the plan. He included the possibility of taking land by eminent domain to allow trucks carrying the turbines to the site to turn from North Palermo Road onto Sibley Road.
A Competitive Energy official first broached the possibility at a meeting last year, Bennett said.
“If an eminent domain action is being contemplated by CES, that intention should be made public and be made public now,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the last 1,000 feet of Sibley Road has been abandoned since the 1930s and was officially discontinued in 1975, which could mean Competitive Energy has no legal right to improve the road to deliver the turbines.
Bennett has asked the Waldo County Superior Court to make a ruling.
Bennett argued the project would not meet the state environmental regulations limiting the amount of runoff created by the addition of materials such as gravel and concrete.
“Based on our project we don’t feel we’re going to trigger DEP review,” replied Andy Price, project manager for Competitive Energy.
But state officials, who initially indicated the project would not need a permit, have subsequently said the project would need to be reviewed and permitted.
“The (Sibley) Road alone would trigger a need for a permit,” Bennett said.
“A permit for this project should not be issued by the Code Enforcement Officer until he is satisfied that the environmental laws of the state are being satisfied.”
Bennett asked the board to delay a decision until a committee of stake [article ends]
By Craig Crosby
Saturday, July 14, 2007
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