Clifton gives provisional approval to five-turbine wind project

Posted June 01, 2011, at 11:39 p.m.

CLIFTON, Maine — Planning board members reviewed a 27-page document for Pisgah Mountain wind farm at length Wednesday night and voted individually on 54 motions, the last one giving the project provisional approval.

Chairman Eric Johns stressed several times during the planners meeting that the approval was in no way final approval of the five-turbine wind project but allows the developer to seek additional state permits.

“This is just a series of statements to be voted on,” he said at the beginning of the meeting.

Bangor resident Paul Fuller and other Pisgah Mountain LLC partners want to put up five Vestas V90-1.8 MW wind turbines, estimated to cost $25 million, that reportedly would generate electricity for 3,000 to 4,000 Maine homes.

Each of the five turbines will be approximately 308 feet tall at the hub and 455 feet at the top of the propeller blade and would sit at the top of Pisgah Mountain, just south of Rebel Hill Road.

Peter Beckford, the resident closest to the proposed project, and his Bangor attorney, Charles Gilbert, were on hand to voice their concerns during the meeting, which was attended by 20 people.

Beckford asked to speak at the beginning of the meeting and read portions of a four-page written document that he submitted to the panel basically stating that he believes two new cabins on his property require the 4,000-foot setbacks for the turbines be redrawn.

“The wind turbines have to be 4,000 feet from occupied structures,” he said, adding later that, “When we got our permit [for one cabin], the developer didn’t have a permit… they had some submittals.”

The planning board and town code enforcement officer have said that the cabins were put up after the developer started the permit process and have ruled that the small cabins, which lack water and sewer and are 1,500 feet from Beckford’s home, are not occupied structures.

“Of course our new cabins are related to the proposed industrial wind development,” Beckford said. Beckford built the cabins because the couple wants to protect the 60 acres they own near the project, he said.

“It is absolutely shocking to look at a map and see that somehow some people intend to use our property for their development in a way that will not allow us to use our own property as we want to,” Beckford said.

The planning board reviewed a long list of items, including several pages of written opposition to the project, and individually approved each motion.

“The board concludes that the applicant has complied with the Clifton land use ordinance dated June 8, 2010, and grants the application Pisgah Mountain LLC,” Johns said, reading the final motion, which was approved unanimously by the board.

Residents will vote on June 14 on two referendum questions that concern the proposed wind farm: one that will add hunting cabins to the definition for residences in the town’s land use ordinance, another that asks residents if they support the developer applying for a Maine Public Utilities Commission certification as a Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Project, which provides incentives for the development of community-based renewable projects that are locally owned.

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