Barring any legal challenges, installation of the Beaver Ridge wind turbines could begin this summer.
First Selectman Ron Price, owner of the land where the $12 million wind farm will be located, said the devices have been ordered and delivery is expected to take place in July. The three 400-foot-tall windmills planned for the site are similar to those in place at Mars Hill, he said. They are projected to produce 4.5 megawatts of power annually.
“They have been approved, they are moving ahead,” Price said Wednesday.
Beaver Ridge Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Competitive Energy Services of Portland, was granted a building permit last year but that action was appealed by abutters to the windmill site. The board of appeals last week rejected the attempt to revoke the building permit.
Beaver Ridge Wind project manager Andrew Price, who is Ron Price’s nephew, could not be reached for comment.
Opponents of the project argued that Beaver Ridge had not begun work on the project in the six-month time frame allotted under its building permit. Price said the board determined that because the company already had placed orders for the wind turbines, it was indicative of the project being under way.
The project has been debated since it was announced three years ago. It was blocked initially when the town enacted a Commercial Development Review Ordinance that established regulations preventing certain activities. Residents supporting the project, however, successfully petitioned the town to hold a special election on the matter. When it came to a vote last June, the review ordinance was repealed 159-112.
Opponents responded by placing an article on the June 10 municipal ballot calling for reinstatement of the review ordinance. If approved the ordinance would become retroactively effective to the date it was repealed last year.
“This is the only way to put some reasonable standards in force,” according to a written statement by abutter Steve Bennett. “When the town voted to repeal the ordinance last year, we were told that the planning board would write a new one. This has not happened and there is no effort by the planning board to write one now.”
Bennett said that rather than an outright repeal, the ordinance should have been amended to correct any problems or concerns residents might have had. Bennett said that without an ordinance the town has no protection from noise and there were no setback requirements. He said the turbines would be located 350 feet from abutting property lines.
“We don’t even have a fall zone, much less the safety setback recommended by turbine manufacturers,” he stated.
Price said the developer had conducted a storm-water runoff study as required by the Department of Environmental Protection and abutters also had appealed that document. The appeal is pending. Price speculated the project would likely end up in court if voters decide to reinstate the review ordinance.
“If it fails and doesn’t get reinstated there’s nothing to appeal or take to court,” he said. “But if it does get reinstated, there could be legal action.”
By Walter Griffin
9 May 2008
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