LINCOLN, Maine – A residents group promised Tuesday to appeal a planning board decision approving a proposed $130 million wind farm that would create as many as 10 new jobs as much as 60 megawatts of electricity in peak winds.
With member Heidi Stevens the sole dissenter, the board voted 6-1 during a meeting Monday to issue permits to First Wind of Massachusetts, which wants to build 40 massive 380-foot turbines, each generating 1½ megawatts on ridgelines in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn. Transmission lines would be built in Mattawamkeag.
The project would generate at least $400,000 in tax revenue for the town annually, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.
“This is a tremendous economic boost for Lincoln,” Goodwin said Tuesday, calling the project “definitely a benefit to all the taxpayers in our community.”
A group opposing the project, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, said the farm’s huge turbines would blight the landscape and fail to immediately reduce local residents’ electric rates.
The group contends that the turbines would threaten human and animal health, lower land values with light flicker and low-decibel sound, violate at least three portions of town zoning law and typically generate a fraction of their capacity.
“All along we have had the impression that this permit for First Wind was set up as a done deal by the planning board, that they wanted to permit this,” said Brad Blake, a member of Friends of Lincoln Lakes. “We got what we expected.”
First Wind has maintained that the project will exceed state environmental and health guidelines. The project still needs approval from the other towns, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
No hearing dates have been set, but First Wind is working with the DEP now, said Ryan Chaytors, a senior development associate at First Wind.
“We are very excited to have received the initial approval,” Chaytors said. “There was a lot of information provided to them [board members]. They took their time and did a very independent review.”
Chaytors said the Army Corps and DEP reviews likely would take three to six months and run concurrently. The other town reviews likely will take less time, so the project could break ground next summer and become operational in 2010.
“We will not do any construction work of any kind until all permits are in place,” he said.
The board approved part of the project, a $500,000 utility building off Route 6, as part of reviews that began last month.
Members of Friends of Lincoln Lakes likely will agree during its meeting at 6:30 tonight to press an appeal with the town’s board of appeals, member Mike DiCenso of Lincoln said. The group will meet at 296 Main St. Residents are invited to attend.
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