FREEDOM – The latest appeal of a proposed wind project on Beaver Ridge is set to get an airing tonight.
The Board of Appeals is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at the Congregational Church to hear arguments filed by Steve Bennett, Erin Bennett-Wade and Jeff Keating against Portland-based Competitive Energy Service’s plan to erect three, 400-foot turbines.
The Board of Appeals also has scheduled meetings for Sept. 12 and 26to continue the hearing process.
After more than a year of legal wrangling, the planning board approved Competitive Energy’s building application July 12.
But in the appeal they filed last month, Bennett, his daughter, Erin Bennett-Wade, and Keating argue that the permit should not have been issued because the company must trespass over private property to get the large turbine tower and blade pieces to the construction site.
“The decision of the (code enforcement officer) and the planning board should therefore be reversed,” the three wrote in the letter to the Board of Appeals.
The appeal is just the latest attempt to prevent the $10 million project.
Competitive Energy first applied for a building permit 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 of 2006 and in December the Planning Board agreed by a 5-1 vote that the project complied with the ordinance.A group of abutters, led by Bennett, 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 ruling.
In the June election, however, residents voted to repeal the commercial development ordinance, thus opening the door for Competitive Energy to reapply for a building permit.
In the letter to the Board of Appeals, the appellants focus on three reasons the permit should be revoked, beginning with use of the narrow Sibley Road to access the construction site.
“The CEO and Planning Board did have not 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, titleand interest being demonstrated by the developer,” the appellants wrote.
Moreover, the final 1,000 feet of Sibley Road has been abandoned, which means abutters own to the road’s center line, the appellants wrote. Again, Competitive Energy failed to show right, title andinterest to use the road.
“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 have said the project will not need state 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 CEO 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
5 September 2007
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