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LURC rezoning clears way for wind power in Washington County

BANGOR, Maine – The Land Use Regulation Commission on Wednesday approved the reclassification of nearly 700 acres of Washington County timberland as a fast-track zone for industrial wind-site development, clearing the way for a 25- or 26-turbine facility in Kossuth Township.

LURC’s 4-0 vote came with no discussion during its meeting at the Spectacular Event Center.

The zoning expansion will allow a subsidiary of First Wind of Massachusetts to expand the footprint of an already designated expedited wind area of about 100 acres in Carroll Plantation, which is in Penobscot County, LURC director Catherine Carroll has said.

The proposed 25- or 26-turbine facility would be located just south of Route 6 and about eight miles south of Stetson Mountain, the site of the 55-turbine Stetson I and II site owned by First Wind.

In its 30-page proposal, Champlain Wind LLC said the zone expansion and project would be a good fit for the land the turbines would be on. It said the land is used primarily for recreation and forest products development, and would not reduce its value.

Plan opponents said during a public hearing in September on the zone expansion that LURC would be creating a potential compromise of the goals it set in its own Comprehensive Land Use Plan if it approved the expansion.

If the Massachusetts-based company builds the wind site, critics contended, it would be visible from Pleasant and Trout lakes. Trout Lake is among 176 remote state ponds to which LURC affords special protection in order to maintain their remote status, natural resource value and the primitive recreational experience in a remote setting, the critics said.