GREENBUSH, Maine — The chance to sound off about a 14-turbine industrial wind farm proposed for the top of Passadumkeag Mountain drew between 20 and 30 landowners and other interested residents to a public meeting Wednesday night at the Greenbush Town Office.
Some of the attendees were residents of Grand Falls Township, the unorganized territory in which most of the proposed 42-megawatt facility, Passadumkeag Wind Park, would be located. Others owned property and camps on Saponac Pond or Nicatous Lake, some of the lakes and ponds that can be seen from the project site.
Wednesday night’s two-hour public meeting at the Greenbush Town Office was the first of two being conducted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Project Manager Robin Clukey, who works out of the agency’s Bangor location, said Wednesday night.
A second public meeting will be held sometime in early summer but has yet to be scheduled, she said. The DEP commissioner or deputy commissioner will be on hand for that session, she confirmed.
Among the concerns opponents raised during the first two-hour session were the project’s effect on scenic views, the potential for noise and light pollution and anticipated drops in property values — the same issues raised in other Maine communities in which wind farms were developed or are proposed.
Some of the attendees also pointed out that the area is a habitat for eagles and osprey as well as a flyway for geese, ducks and other migratory birds.
Jeffrey Harriman, who until recently lived in nearby Burlington, is a third generation Maine guide who has spent much of his life on Nicatous Lake, where he and his wife Theresa now own Nicatous Lodge & Cabins. He was among those who traveled to Greenbush for the meeting.
“I lived on Folsom Ridge and every morning when I woke up I looked over at Passadumkeag Mountain,” said he said. “It’s part of my life, that mountain. That and Saponac [Pond],” he said Thursday.
He is among those who do not want the turbines to be installed.
“It’s not like you can hide them,” Harriman said of the large turbines used in industrial power generation. “I’m not sure what the state of Maine was doing when they decided to go with them. We’re supposed to be Vacationland, not looking at gorgeous mountains with turbines on them. The sight and sound of these turbines is obnoxious,” he said.
“I’m kind of wound up about it. It’s another place around here dying just because somebody wants to make a buck at the expense of everyone who comes to Maine to look at the natural beauty,” Harriman added.
His family’s lodge and camps face away from the project site, “which is a good thing.” He worries that similar wind projects will pop up to the east of the project site — on top of Horseshoe, Sabao and Duck Lake mountains.
Harriman said the project, if approved, will ruin the views from Folsom Ridge, which he considers “the best views between Bangor and Katahdin. I was within a month of putting a house on Folsom Ridge [before deciding to acquire the lodge]. It would have been right in my face.”
“People in Bangor are going to see it,” he predicted, noting that he can see the glow of Bangor’s city lights, about 15 miles away as the crow flies, from the top of Folsom Ridge in Burlington, which lies due north of Grand Falls Township.
Harriman said Thursday that he does not think the project has many local supporters. “You might find somebody but I guess they didn’t think it was important enough to be there.”
“There’s no good side here for us,” he added, “Maybe the county [of Penobscot] will get money from the taxes but that’s the only benefit I see.”
Bob and Susan Bulay of Old Town also oppose the wind farm and attended the Greenbush meeting to raise their concerns. The couple has owned shorefront property on Saponac Pond since the 1980s, Bob Bulay said Thursday. Besides their own parcel, they are part owners of other nearby land.
They and other camp owners incorporated and have accumulated and protected more than 2.5 miles of shoreline in the area, Bulay said. He said the project would wreck the quality of life he and other camp owners now enjoy at the pond.
“We have quite a vested interest. We have created a playground. … The reason we could achieve this is because it’s been kind of an overlooked area,” he said. Passadumkeag Mountain, he noted, “is our beautiful backdrop.”
“Now, when I go out I can listen carefully and hear the animals in the woods, the beavers splashing, and maybe a frog or a fish jumping. If the project is built, peace and quiet at the Saponac will be replaced by the thrumming of turbine blades,” he said. The dark night sky will be filled with “a continuous line of flashing red and white lights and the reflection in the water of them.”
“This development is not good for anybody and it’s going to ruin our property values,” Bulay said.
Harriman said he tried to get representatives of the developer who attended Wednesday’s meeting to say if the project would be financially viable without tax credits, subsidies and other government aid. He said he did not get an answer.
Passadumkeag WindPark LLC applied for a Natural Resources Protection Act permit and a Site Location of Development permit in February, according to DEP officials processing the application. The project also is subject to approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and could be reviewed by other government agencies.
The application and supporting documentation can be reviewed at the DEP’s Bangor office or the Greenbush Town Office during regular business hours. Project documents also can be seen online at www.maine.gov/dep/land/sitelaw/selected-developments/index.html.
Written public comments on the application should be sent to Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 106 Hogan Road, Suite 106 Bangor 04401.