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Withhold endorsement for wind committee

If you agree to Camden’s suggested three-town committee on Ragged Mountain wind turbines it will be seen as a sign of support for building the turbines. We urge you not to endorse the proposed three-town committee. Without getting into the broad debate about the efficacy of wind power, we feel this particular Ragged Mountain proposal should not be pursued for the following reasons.

Noise in residential areas/property values – There are many residences in all three towns on the flanks and around the base of the mountain. The horror stories from Mars Hill, Freedom, Vinalhaven and elsewhere from people whose homes are close to turbines make it clear that the industry has not figured out how to make these huge machines compatible with people, despite the pre-construction assurances it gives.

Land use ordinance’s high elevation performance standards – The town’s land use ordinance prohibits “buildings” at high elevations on Ragged Mountain. This standard was established as an outgrowth of the extensive town-wide comprehensive planning process, reflecting the importance that residents placed on keeping the upper reaches of the major hills undeveloped. It does not seem reasonable to think that the views of town residents that led to establishment of this standard have changed in just a few years.

Public water supply – Aqua Maine’s predecessors bought up hundreds of acres of watershed on Ragged Mountain to protect the water quality in Mirror Lake and Grassy Pond by ensuring continuation of the natural filtration provided by undeveloped land. It seems possible that the extensive blasting and other heavy construction activity that would be necessary to build the access road and large level areas needed for each turbine site could diminish water quality. We live between Mirror Lake and Grassy Pond and we and our neighbors already have unsafe levels of arsenic in our well water that require special filtration.

Coastal Mountain Land Trust’s campaign to preserve Ragged and Bald mountains – It is hard to imagine anything that would fly more directly in the face of CMLT’s recent initiative to preserve the upper reaches of Ragged Mountain than this wind turbine idea. We were pleased to see that CMLT’s board recently informed Camden’s Select Board that none of the land on Ragged that the land trust controls would be available for wind power related use.

Snow Bowl/Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Improvement Campaign – The mountain wind turbine idea is being pursued at the same time that a major effort is under way to improve the recreational appeal of the same mountain. But if the turbines were built it is likely that some hiking trails would have to be relocated or abandoned. Because of the ice that the turbines’ blades throw off, some trails would not be safe to use in winter.

Possible protracted legal fight – A great many people are already involved in this effort, all with strong feelings and some with deep pockets. If a concrete proposal for turbines is developed and the formal approval and permitting process is started, a legal battle seems likely that could be costly to the town.

Thank you for your consideration of these views.

Bruce and Joy Faulkner