Maine Department of Transportation officials on Friday removed several roadside signs in the Moosehead Lake region opposing wind power development in the region, according to a department spokesman.
Maine DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said a total of 35 signs were removed in the Greenville and Rockwood areas, most of which read “Save Moosehead. Say No To Wind.”
The signs were protesting the SunEdison and Everpower projects proposed for the Moosehead Lake area.
Talbot said the signs were removed because they were about 20 feet from the centerline of highways in each area, and there is nothing on local or statewide ballots regarding wind this year.
Under the Maine Traveler Information Services Act, signs pertaining to issues not on the ballot must be beyond 33 feet from the centerline of the road to be out of the state’s right of way, Talbot said.
“We had to take them down,” he said.
No other signs were removed from the side of Maine’s roads, Talbot said.
According to a statement from the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power, the signs were distributed by volunteers with the Moosehead Region Futures Committee, a nonprofit organization educating area residents about industrial wind projects.
The statement said a majority of the signs were placed in front yards throughout the area, and the nonprofit plans to re-install the signs in the coming weeks.
Moosehead Region Futures Committee was originally formed as a result of the Plum Creek Development Plan and was a key player in fighting it. During the final settlement talks, Plum Creek reserved the right to possibly allow wind development in the conservation easement negotiated in the settlement – specifically, the area that includes Misery Ridge west of Moosehead, according to the group’s statement.
“MDOT could have contacted us before taking this action,” John Willard, the group’s president, said in the statement. “I’m curious as to why the DOT decided to target our group. I guess your First Amendment rights are forfeited when you fight a wind project.”
Moosehead Region Futures Committee board member Janet Chasse of Greenville also was displeased with the removal of the signs.
“I’m stunned that they did this,” she said in the statement. “We’re concerned that industrial wind projects will damage the region’s economy and destroy its character forever. We want folks to understand they should have a voice in this decision.”
The Moosehead Region Futures Committee stated it plans to distribute more signs in the Jackman area in the coming weeks as well.
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