Land use planning is about compatibility. The recent denial of First Wind’s Bowers Mountain project demonstrates what should occur when a land use does not fit the proposed site.
Many people focus on First Wind’s use of taxpayer funds, the inefficiency of wind power and First Wind’s tactics. These are all legitimate issues but not the most important.
Bowers Mountain overlooks an area of rare natural beauty. The area is filled with lakes and the people who use them. This natural economic engine will continue as long as the area retains its natural beauty. Sticking an industrial development right in the middle of this area is an obvious incompatibility.
The Land Use Regulation Commission got it right when they denied First Wind. That denial has been duplicated by the Department of Environmental Protection in a separate process. The project is simply incompatible with the existing use.
My guess is that First Wind will be undeterred by both denials and pursue all available appeals. I hope I am wrong and they just accept the denials without more litigation. The next time we hear from First Wind that they want to “work with” the citizens of Maine, remember how First Wind chooses to deal with these denials.
Will First Wind accept the two decisions without appeal and demonstrate to Mainers what they put in their press releases, or will they press on at all costs? They have an opportunity to demonstrate they can “work with” Mainers by gracefully accepting the decisions. After all, they have already had two chances.
We will see in the next 30 days whether First Wind’s claims of “working with” Mainers are real or just hype. If we read “First Wind appeals Bowers decision,” then we have the answer. “Working with” the citizens of Maine means that on occasion we have to accept “no.” Stay tuned.
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