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FREEDOM – Landowners in the area of a proposed wind turbine development have filed another appeal to try and shut the project down.
Steve Bennett, Erin Bennett-Wade and Jeff Keating argue in a letter filed to town officials this week that the company that seeks to install the turbines can only do so by trespassing over private property.
“The decision of the (Code Enforcement Officer) and the planning board should therefore be reversed,” the three wrote to the Board of Appeals.
While attempts to contact town officials about the letter were unsuccessful, town clerk Cindy Abbott said the letter was given to Addison Chase, chairman of the appeals board. Abbott said she was unsure when or whether the board would consider the appeal.
Selectmen also are looking into whether the appeals board may hear the complaint, Abbott said.
This week’s appeal is just the latest attempt to prevent the $10 million construction of three wind turbines on Beaver Ridge. Portland-based Competitive Energy first applied to erect three, 400-foot, electricity-generating turbines more than a year ago, but the company agreed to retract its original application to give the town time to develop a commercial development review ordinance, which voters approved in August of last year.
The company resubmitted its application in September 2006, and in December the planning board agreed by a 5-1 vote that the project complied with the ordinance.
A group of neighbors to the proposed project, led by Bennett and family members, appealed that decision.
In March the Board of Appeals determined the project did not meet the ordinance standards for noise and bonding and overturned the planning board’s decision.
In June, however, residents voted to repeal the commercial development ordinance, thus opening the door for Competitive Energy to reapply for a permit. The planning board granted a building permit on July 12.
In the letter to the Board of Appeals, the appellants list three ways in which they believe the planning board erred and the decision should be overturned.
The large turbines, blades and equipment needed to build the turbines cannot be delivered to the site without trespassing on neighboring property during the turn from North Palermo Road onto Sibley Road, they argue.
“The CEO and Planning Board did have authority to grant permission to the developer to expand or enlarge the Sibley Road in order to accommodate (the) equipment without proof of right, title and interest being demonstrated by the developer,” the appellants wrote.
The final 1,000 feet of Sibley Road has been abandoned, which means abutters own the property to the road’s center line, the appellants wrote.
“Further, the developer did not provide evidence in this application showing right, title and interest in the property to be developed,” the appellants wrote.
Competitive Energy officials, who could not be reached for comment, have said the project will not need Department of Environmental Protection approval.
But Bennett said during the July 12 meeting that department officials have told him the project likely will need to be approved.
“The (Code Enforcement Officer) and the Planning Board of the Town of Freedom have established a history of not giving local approval to a project until the appropriate state authority has already given their permission, particularly when it has concerned the DEP and environmental issues,” the appellants wrote. “By approving this project without any demonstration by the developer that they have an approval from the DEP … the CEO and the Planning Board have acted inconsistently with their past practice.”
By Craig Crosby
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