Camden – The Camden Select Board on Sept. 7 heard from citizens concerned about a possible wind turbine installation on Ragged Mountain.
While no specific plans are in the works for a wind turbine development on Ragged Mountain, there was a strong show of opposition to any possible project at that location.
The Select Board voted unanimously Aug. 17 to create the Ragged Mountain Wind Workgroup, and to invite the towns of Hope and Rockport to join that group. If approved by all three towns, the work group would comprise four members from Camden, two from Hope and three from Rockport.
At the June 18 Select Board meeting the Island Institute’s vice president for community wind, George Baker, suggested a three-phase project that would begin with a feasibility study that the Energy Committee estimated would cost between $50,000 and $75,000. This first phase would analyze the technical, logistical, economic and environmental aspects of installing wind turbines on Ragged Mountain.
At the Sept. 7 meeting, which lasted more than three hours, Dorie Klein introduced the Friends of Ragged Mountain to the board and the community.
“This group has come together out of necessity to preserve Ragged Mountain from industrial wind power development and construction on Ragged Mountain and the ridge,” Klein said. Although no specific plans have been made for the mountain ridgeline, Klein and others repeatedly suggested that up to seven turbines might be under discussion for the site. She said she had heard that number in July from Town Manger Roberta Smith. Following the presentation, Klein and her husband, Dana Strout, said they felt any turbine larger than a single backyard unit was an industrial turbine.
“By educating ourselves about the effects of living and playing near wind turbines we strongly believe that wind turbines should not be built atop a residential, recreational and protected nature preserve area,” Klein said.
She and others who spoke in opposition to a wind development said that such a project would cause environmental degradation and noise problems and could adversely affect property values.
“All independent studies by professional, independent appraisers and realtors agree that a house near an industrial wind turbine facility will take much longer to sell, if it sells at all,” Klein said, quoting the Web site at montvillewind.org.
Opponents question committee disclosure, anonymous gifts
She asked why the Energy Committee was not listed in Camden’s annual report and said that minutes of that group’s meetings prior to 2009 were not available. The Energy Committee was created Oct. 19, 2006.
Klein asked the board to hold off on a feasibility study, requested by the Energy Committee, that is expected to cost between $50,000 and $70,000. She said that abutters to the property should be polled before going forward with any further study.
The Select Board received a letter Aug. 24 from the board of directors of Coastal Mountains Land Trust, owner or conservator of more than 500 acres on Ragged Mountain. In that letter, the CMLT board states that land owned by CMLT on Ragged Mountain “cannot be made available for the roads, utility lines, or towers/turbines that are part of wind generation development.”
At the Sept. 7 meeting, Strout asked those present to imagine what seven 45-story buildings would look like on the ridge of Ragged Mountain, along with the “roads wider than the turnpike” that would service a wind development.
“Tell me our town motto is not ‘where the turbines meet the sea,'” Strout said.
He said that Denmark had more than 6,000 turbines and only received about 1.33 percent of its energy from wind. Strout said that many European countries halted wind development because it had not yielded the economic benefits expected.
Strout and other speakers talked about the so-called flicker effect created by the shadows of turbine blades as they move through the air. Other hazards mentioned included the potential for blades to throw ice long distances, a particular concern for skiers at the Camden Snow Bowl.
“I can’t understand why we’d spend $6.5 million on a recreational area and at the same time build wind turbines,” said Dirt Road resident Andrea Young.
Molyneaux Road resident Ned Ackerman said he could hear the snow bowl’s loudspeaker system at his home, a half-mile from the base of Ragged Mountain. He said the potential for ice throw was a liability situation that the town should avoid.
Residents also questioned what they said was a pattern of anonymous donations to schools that set the stage for public acceptance of future wind developments. They said such donations had preceded projects in Freedom and at Mars Hill, and cited a gift to Camden Hills Regional High School as such a donation.
Select Board Chairman Karen Grove thanked the Friends of Ragged Mountain for their comments and encouraged those present to consider applying to join the three-town committee to explore the future of wind power on Ragged Mountain.
“We don’t want only people who are 100 percent behind the idea of turbines,” she said.
The board invited anyone interested in serving as a Camden representative to fill out a committee interest form. These are available at the town office and online at the town’s Web site at camdenmaine.gov.
Board member Deborah Dodge reminded residents that any proposal would be subject to several public hearings before coming to a vote of the town for approval.
“A proposed ordinance has not come in any final form in front of any board that would pass it on to a hearing,” Dodge said.
Two public information meetings on the topic of wind development will be held in October at the Camden Public Library. On Tuesday, Oct. 5 the Island Institute’s Community Wind Director Suzanne Pude and Camden Energy Committee member Rick Knowlton will speak. On Thursday, Oct. 14 educator and environmentalist Jonathan Carter will speak. Both presentations will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Picker Room of the Camden Public Library.
To learn more about Friends of Ragged Mountain, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting of the Camden Energy Committee is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13 in the Washington Street Conference Room. The Energy Committee generally meets on the first Monday of the month.
The next Select Board meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 21. For more information, contact the Camden Town Office at 236-3353.
The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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