PLEASANT RIDGE PLANTATION – Town officials slowed the permitting process for a wind power project developer Thursday night, to the surprise and approval of some residents.
The town’s three assessors voted unanimously to deny a permit to Highland Wind LLC, which wants to string transmission wires over the southern portion of Rowe Pond Road.
The wires, an essential component of the 39-turbine project in neighboring Highland Plantation, would have crossed near four houses and a small park in Pleasant Ridge Plantation.
If the developer wants to appeal the assessors’ decision, it may do so with the Somerset County commissioners. The permit is needed for state approval of the wind farm.
The elected assessors – similar to a town’s selectmen – denied the developer’s permit application, contending that it was inconsistent with a similar application filed with the state. The discrepancy in wire locations was discovered by Retta Giguere, a resident who raised the issue at a public hearing Feb. 10.
The assessors also said the lines would be unsightly and would cross too close to homes.
Though no turbines are planned for Pleasant Ridge, some residents would be able to see the turbines and have opposed the project. About 15 people attended the meeting Thursday night.
Highland Wind LLC is operated by Brunswick-based Independence Wind, which is led by former Gov. Angus King and former Maine Public Broadcasting Corp. President Rob Gardiner.
Erik Stumpfel, an attorney for Highland Wind from the firm Eaton Peabody, admitted that the permit application filed with Pleasant Ridge deviates from the information filed with the state Land Use Regulation Commission.
The town application says the transmission lines would pass alongside the existing Central Maine Power Co. utility wires, but the state application shows the wires deviating from the CMP lines and running closer to people’s homes.
The difference in wire locations between the two applications is 577 feet.
“It is not, and has never been, adjacent to the CMP transmission corridor,” Stumpfel said.
However, the town application was “sufficient to let the public know approximately where this crossing would be,” he said. “We would suggest this is not misleading.”
Giguere disagreed, saying, “577 feet is quite a difference in my mind.”
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