Clifton planners won’t allow public comment during wind farm meeting

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.
Posted June 12, 2013, at 10:04 p.m.
Last modified June 13, 2013, at 8:49 a.m.

CLIFTON, Maine — A Superior Court judge has ordered town planners to reconsider two items — tower heights and sound levels — from its October 2011 approval of Pisgah Mountain wind farm, and the local panel decided Wednesday not to allow public comment during the remand process.

The Clifton Planning Board is allowing both the developer, Bangor residents Paul and Sandy Fuller and partners, and the opponents, Rebel Hill Farm owners Julie and Peter Beckford, to present written arguments in response to Justice Andrew M. Horton’s May 8 decision.

The panel also tentatively scheduled July 18 for a special meeting to hear oral arguments from both parties, and to ask questions of David Hessler of Hessler Associates of Haymarket, Va., a consultant hired by the town to conduct a sound study who will use Skype to be present.

“On the night of the 18th, I don’t think we should have any public comments,” planning board member Bill Rand said. “I for one don’t want any outside influences.”

The other planners concurred. They also decided that since the Clifton Taskforce on Wind was not a party to the federal lawsuit, they will not be a party during the remand process. Paula Kelso, who is a task force member, presented her written comments questioning the wind farm project during the public comment portion of the meeting, held at the end after many people had left.

Horton, a Business and Consumer Court judge, affirmed most of the Clifton planning board’s 2011 decision to approve the $25 million five-turbine wind farm on Pisgah Mountain, but he requested more information about how the panel made its decisions about tower heights and sound levels.

David Szewczyk, the town’s attorney, said his interpretation of Horton’s decision means there are more than two issues that planners need to address.

“The sound issue, I think, breaks down into four issues so there are five issues,” Szewczyk said.

The four sub-issues in the sound level portion of the decision involve sound levels, whether narrative and iso-maps were submitted, and whether a consultant used the state’s tonal penalty rather than the Clifton Land Use Ordinance tonal penalty.

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