State land use regulators are set Wednesday to take up staff recommendations for the approval for TransCanada’s wind energy project and a denial for Maine Mountain Power’s wind farm, both proposed in northern Franklin County.
The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission had deliberated on both projects on Jan. 14 and came up with the split decision they directed staff to draft.
Commissioners have several other items on the agenda, including a request from Harley Lee, on behalf of Maine Mountain Power, to withdraw the petition for rezoning and an application for proposed preliminary development plan for the Redington and Black Nubble Wind Farms in Redington Township, and Western Mountains Foundation to amend its application from two huts to one.
The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. March 5 at the Best Western Black Bear Inn at 4 Godfrey Drive in Orono with commissioners discussing a proposed post hearing schedule for Plum Creek Maine Timberlands and Plum Creek Land Co., and proposed revisions to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
Between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. LURC will take up a request from Western Mountains Foundation to reopen the hearing record to amend an application to withdraw the proposed hut development at the Grand Falls site in Carrying Place and Spring Lake townships.
Larry Warren, president of Western Mountains Foundation, said Monday that the plan is to withdraw the Grand Falls hut site for now while they look for another site to lessen the impact on a wintering deer area and move forward on the proposed Flagstaff Lake hut in Carrying Place Township.
The foundation is proposing to build a 180-mile trail system from Moosehead Lake to Bethel and construct 12 lodging huts along the way. One is already open in Carrabassett Valley.
LURC staff is recommending the commission reopen the hearing to let the foundation withdraw its request for the hut at Grand Falls and then approve the application for the Flagstaff lodging hut and accessory structures.
Prior to the commission taking up the recommendation to deny the Black Nubble Wind Farm project, it is scheduled to take up Maine Mountain Power’s request to withdraw its application.
Lee said Monday that the feedback he has received from LURC staff is that legal counsel is advising LURC not to accept the request to withdraw and move forward on the denial recommendation for the project.
The letter’s purpose was to try to save the staff time drafting the denial, Lee said.
It doesn’t mean that they’ve given up on a wind power project, Lee said. They’re going to wait and see what the Legislature will do with the Wind Power Task Force’s report that identified some permitting process issues.
The LURC staff’s recommendation to approve TransCanada’s request to rezone 2,367 acres in two parcels on Kibby Mountain in Skinner and Kibby townships and Kibby Range in Kibby Township for a 44 turbine commercial wind farm comes with conditions for a final development plan.
By Donna M. Perry
4 March 2008
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