Building permit for wind farm spurs challenge

Posted Aug. 25, 2010, at 11:22 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:29 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Despite consistent court rulings against them, opponents of a proposed wind farm in the Lincoln area continue to pressure town officials to reject the project.

Attorney Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, who represents Lincoln property owners Harry Epps and Mary Beth Nolette, has notified Lincoln Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis that if he issues a building permit, she will appeal it under a local ordinance that allows aggrieved parties to legally challenge decisions by town officials.

“The Lincoln Planning Board ordered you, as the Lincoln Code Enforcement Officer, to issue a permit to Evergreen LLC for the construction of this project,” Williams wrote in an Aug. 20 letter to Davis. “If the permit is issued, we intend to appeal that code enforcement officer action.”

At issue is a plan by First Wind of Massachusetts, which has received all the local approvals it needs to build and operate its $130 million Rollins Mountain Wind Farm. A group of area residents called Friends of Lincoln Lakes has appealed the Lincoln Planning Board’s approval of that plan all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which recently upheld a lower court’s decision to reject the appeal. The project has been tied up at the local appeals board level and in the courts since the planning board approved it 6-1 on Dec. 1, 2008.

Davis said he has received Williams’ Aug. 20 letter, but doesn’t think opponents of the project have any grounds for another appeal.

“Why she sent us that letter, we don’t know,” said Davis. “First Wind has all the town approvals it needs. All I’m doing is following up on the administrative part. There is not an appeals process for that.”

Davis said he will issue a building permit, which he characterized as a matter of paperwork, as soon as it’s requested by First Wind of Massachusetts.

In response to questions from the Bangor Daily News, a spokesman for First Wind provided the following written statement Wednesday: “First Wind has all necessary local permits to build and operate the Rollins Wind project. We look forward to putting more Maine businesses and people to work as soon as possible.”

A First Wind spokesman told the BDN earlier this month that the company hopes the decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court will help attract financing for the project in time to begin construction later this year.

Williams, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, has told the BDN that she is considering suing the town of Lincoln in U.S. District Court if concerned abutters to the project site direct her to do so.

Davis said opponents of the project ask him almost daily whether he has issued a building permit yet.

“They’re trying to make it seem like I’m the permitting authority,” said Davis. “I’m not.”

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