Lincoln board’s wind farm appeal to be heard next week in Bangor

Posted July 24, 2009, at 12:13 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:15 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — An appeal of a local board’s decision to reject a property owners group’s protest of a permit issued for a $130 million industrial wind site on Rollins Mountain will be heard in court next week.

Attorneys for both sides will present arguments in Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 29, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.

No testimony is expected to be given. Only attorney Lynne Williams for the Friends of Lincoln Lakes group and an attorney representing the town are expected to speak, Goodwin said. She declined further comment.

The appeal targets the Lincoln Appeals Board’s rejection of the Friends group’s identity on a technicality, Williams has said.

In its first hearing since 2005, the appeals board ruled 4-2 on Jan. 8 that the Friends group had no right to appeal the planning board’s Dec. 1 decision approving the wind project because the group was legally incorporated Dec. 31 but filed its appeal Dec. 15.

Under its General Conduct regulation, the appeals board “decides whether the applicant has a right to appear before the Board,” the regulation states. With the Friends group’s identity in question, the board felt it had to reject hearing the group’s complaint, the panel’s chairman, Alan Grant, has said.

“This standard is vague, and gives no notice to an appellant of how the Board will make that decision,” Williams wrote in her four-page appeal. “Since this Board rarely meets, there was no evidence from other appeals about what information appellants would be required to produce. With no articulated standards, the Board was free to make a decision that in the final analysis was arbitrary and capricious.”

Grant disagreed with Williams’ interpretation, saying the board was very comfortable with its decision.

Williams did not immediately return telephone messages Thursday.

First Wind of Massachusetts wants to build 40 turbines, each generating 1½ megawatts, on ridgelines in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn. Transmission lines would be built in Mattawamkeag. The project would generate at least $400,000 in tax revenue for the town annually, town officials have said.

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 that the turbines would threaten human and animal health, lower land values with light flicker and low-decibel sound, violate at least three provisions of town zoning law and typically generate a fraction of their capacity.

In the two-page appeal she planned to give to the appeals board, Williams said the planning board’s approval violated its own, and most other, municipal land-use ordinances for residential zones.

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

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