Clifton wind farm partners appeal to Supreme Court in effort to resume Pisgah Mountain project

Peter Beckford, left, and his wife talk during their appellate hearing against Pisgah Mountain LLC at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Peter Beckford, left, and his wife talk during their appellate hearing against Pisgah Mountain LLC at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 08, 2014, at 6:05 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 09, 2014, at 7:01 a.m.

CLIFTON, Maine — Developers of the proposed $25 million wind farm on Pisgah Mountain have filed an appeal to the state’s highest court to overturn a Maine Business and Consumer Court judge’s determination in December that the Clifton Planning Board erred in approving the five-turbine project.

“We’re going to challenge the court on a number of points,” Bangor resident Paul Fuller said Wednesday.

The Pisgah Mountain LLC wind farm is proposed by Fuller, his wife, Sandy, and local partners.

The notice of appeal was filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Dec. 31 and lists six points, including one that states the original appeal filed by Rebel Hill Road farmers Peter and Julie Beckford was filed outside the appeal period and another that states the trial court erred “by making its own factual findings rather than reviewing factual findings of the Clifton Planning Board,” under rules of the court.

The other four points state the trial court erred in concluding that: Pisgah didn’t submit sufficient information to allow planners to make an informed decision; planners lacked the authority to issue a waiver; waived preconstruction sound maps are “essential”; and the Pisgah sound analysis used “best case” rather than “worst case” ground absorption rates.

The Beckfords have opposed the wind farm plans ever since it was first proposed, more than four years ago.

“My gut feeling is I don’t think they’ll win, and I don’t believe they think they’ll win,” Peter Beckford said Wednesday of the decision by Pisgah partners to appeal Horton’s decision.

To fight the wind farm project, the Beckfords asked the town’s board of appeals to review the planning board’s approval, which was denied, and then the couple filed their Superior Court lawsuit against the town on March 15, 2012. They learned in December that Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton found in their favor, saying the planning board did not follow the Clifton Land Use Code when it approved the Pisgah Mountain wind farm two years ago.

The Dec. 10, 2013, decision nullified the Pisgah permit, which was issued by Clifton planners in November 2011.

“He was very careful and very clear,” Peter Beckford said of Horton’s decision. “He said the planning board did not enforce the ordinance.”

The Pisgah partners have already submitted a second wind farm plan, that the local planning board decided in November they would not review until after Horton’s decision.

Fuller said the newest application addresses most of the concerns raised by Horton and the Beckfords, but added, “That is on hold … until this is settled.”

“We’re in this for the long haul,” the developer said.

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