Group pushes to halt wind projects

Posted Sept. 17, 2010, at 12:17 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:29 a.m.

LEE, Maine — A grass-roots citizens group will oppose the reclassification of nearly 700 acres of Washington County timberland as a fast-track zone for industrial wind-site development when a state land-use board meets next week, the group’s president says.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes will press the Land Use Regulation Commission to accept its second proposed moratorium on all state wind development when LURC convenes its public hearing at 1 p.m. Sept. 22 at Lee Academy, group president Brad Blake said.

Blake said the state law requiring such proposals to be reviewed in no more than 270 days “has opened the floodgates to development of industrial wind sites across ridgelines from New Hampshire to the Canadian border.”

“It has provided favoritism to this one particular industry that other industries don’t have, curtailed the application of the usual environmental standards and curtailed citizens’ input into decision making in their own communities,” Blake said earlier this week.

If LURC grants it, the zoning-expansion petition will allow a subsidiary of First Wind of Massachusetts to expand the footprint of an already designated expedited wind area of about 100 acres in Carroll Plantation, which is in Penobscot County, LURC director Catherine Carroll said.

The Friends group so far has opposed all First Wind applications to build wind sites, saying that such sites depreciate land values, threaten the health of nearby residents with their noise and vibrations, blight the pastoral quality of the lands on which they are placed and contribute little if any real value to local economies.

First Wind and other wind proponents say wind farms are ecofriendly producers of wholesale electricity that reduce dependence on foreign oil, are built within health standards and have little if any impact on the land around them, while creating many short-term jobs and new tax revenue.

“This is just the first step in the expansion process,” First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said Thursday. “If LURC approves the application, we still have to go through the entire permit application process for the project overall. This is just a request for one small section, 700 acres, to be included in the expedited area.”

The expansion would be located on the border of Washington and Penobscot counties and is just north of Pleasant Lake in Kossuth Township.

The proposed 25- to 26-turbine facility would be located just south of Route 6 and about eight miles south of Stetson Mountain, the site of the 55-turbine Stetson I and II site owned by First Wind.

In its 30-page proposal, Champlain Wind LLC said the zone expansion and proposed project would be a good fit for the land they would be on, which is used primarily for recreation and forest products development, and would not reduce the land’s value.

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