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Legal status sought on Beaver Ridge roads

FREEDOM (May 21): Ten people who own land near the proposed $12 million wind power project on Beaver Ridge have asked Waldo County Superior Court to rule that portions of three roads leading to the site are privately owned.

The roads in question include Sibley Road Extension (also known as Clark Road), Beaver Ridge Road (also known as Beaver Hill Road), and Deer Hill Road (also known as Deer Hill Lane). It is believed that developer Beaver Ridge Wind LLC needs to use one of the three roads to bring equipment onto the proposed windmill site, and to erect a power line that will feed electricity generated there into the regional power grid.

“Portions of all three of the roads were discontinued or abandoned,” said Steve Bennett, who has led the fight against the windmills. “… We are asking the court to look at the record of those three roads and sort out their status.”

Bennett was joined in the suit by his wife, Judy; David and MaryAnn Bennett; Jason Wade and Erin Bennett-Wade; Jeff Keating; Thomas Keating; Sallyann Hadyniak; and Amanda Martin.

Named as defendants were the town of Freedom, Beaver Ridge Wind LLC, Central Maine Power Co. and Ronald Price.

Supporters of the wind project said the court action was ironic because Steve Bennett publicly stated just a few weeks ago that the town need not be embroiled in the dispute between Beaver Ridge Wind and some of its nearby neighbors.

“These lawsuits are filed six weeks after Steve Bennett stood up at town meeting and told the citizens that the town does not have to be a party in the legal battle over the windmills, the town does not have to put aside money for legal fees, and that he is not asking the town to pay his legal expenses,” said Glen Bridges, a supporter of the project. “He has argued on other occasions that the town does not need to hire a lawyer.”

Bennett said the court filing was a request for a declaratory judgment, not a lawsuit.

“We’re not suing anyone,” he said. “I would not characterize this as a suit against the town … it’s a request that the court declare the legal status of the roads, and the only reason the town is a defendant is that it is the legal steward of the roads.”

Price, a Freedom selectman and owner of the land on which the three windmills would be erected, said he asked the town for a clarification of the roads’ status almost two years ago. About two months ago, Price said, the Board of Selectmen asked town attorney William Kelly of Belfast to investigate the matter. Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment.

By Andy Kekacs
VillageSoup/Waldo County Citizen Copy Editor


21 May 2008