Lincoln expects wind legal fees to top $10,000

Posted Dec. 22, 2008, at 8:46 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:09 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine— Largely because of an appeal of First Wind of Massachusetts’ town permit to build a proposed $130 million wind farm, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin expects the town will spend more than its $10,000 budget on attorneys’ fees by budget year’s end on June 30, she said Monday.

Goodwin wasn’t complaining, calling appeals of planning board decisions “part of doing business,” but said the appeal was unexpected. As a precaution, the town will have an attorney from Eaton Peabody on hand when the Lincoln Appeals Board hears the matter at 7 p.m. Jan. 8, and for any other hearings.

The attorney “will be representing the town in whatever legal issues come up,” town Economic Development Director Ruth Birtz said Monday. “We don’t know what questions will come up. It’s just we feel that it’s advisable to have the attorney there.”

The town has spent $3,746.50 on legal matters to date, Goodwin said.

One of Maine’s oldest law firms, Eaton Peabody has offices all over the state.

Representing a group opposing the project, the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, attorney Lynne A. Williams of Bar Harbor filed an appeal with the Lincoln Appeals Board on Dec. 16 charging that First Wind’s turbines do not belong in residential zones of Rollins Mountain, where the project is slated to go if it is approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies.

Williams claimed that the board’s decision effectively defined the farm’s 40 380-foot turbines as major public utilities, which, she said, typically are considered “electricity, water, sanitary, sewer, storm water drainage, telephone and cable television” associated with residential uses in the R-1 and R-2 zones.

First Wind wants to build 40 turbines, each generating 1.5 megawatts, on ridgelines in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn. The project would generate at least $400,000 in tax revenue for the town annually, Goodwin has said. It still needs approval from the other towns and state and federal agencies.

Project proponents have praised First Wind as a conscientious creator of wind power, saying the Lincoln Lakes project would create as much as 60 megawatts of pollution-free electricity in peak winds.

The Friends group contends the turbines would threaten human and animal health, lower land values with light flicker and low-decibel sound, and typically generate a fraction of their capacity.

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