CARTHAGE – Selectmen hope to know within the next few weeks whether 320 acres known for a century as town property is really owned by the town.
If so, they may be included in a wind turbine project proposed by Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass.
First Selectman Stephen Brown said Rumford lawyer Jennifer Kreckel was working on the documentation to present to a Franklin County court that could name the town as the property owners.
Residents at the annual town meeting last year approved spending up to $5,000 for the legal work.
Patriot Renewables has proposed building up to 13 wind turbines on a 2- to 3-mile section of the Saddleback Mountain Ridge on privately owned land. The company has options to buy about 1,000 acres.
The town-owned parcel is an extension of the privately owned property and could be the site of another four to six turbines.
Todd Presson, chief operating officer for Patriot Renewables, said the company had collected more than a year 's worth of data on such things as wind speed and abundance, bird species, wetlands and other environmental issues. He hopes to file the project's permitting information to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection when the town determines whether it owns the adjacent 320 acres.
If that's not possible, the company will go ahead with submission of the environmental data to the DEP, and file additional information on the town property at a later time.
If the town allows use of its land for part of the wind farm, it could collect royalties from the energy produced.
Presson said, and Brown confirmed, that the company may pursue a partial tax-increment financing proposal on the project.
“We've been talking about it for a while,” Presson said. “Part of the tax revenue would be subject to the TIF; part would go into the town's general fund.”
Brown said a partial TIF could be an advantage for the town. Although such consideration is preliminary, he said TIF funds could go into such things as a development trust for the village area. TIFs are tax incentives for businesses that agree to certain conditions in exchange for deferred taxes on new development.
Because the land on which most of the project would be built is privately owned and subject only to state regulations, Carthage residents would not have a say in whether it could be built. However, if the town lots are used, residents would determine whether to allow construction of wind turbines.
Presson said the DEP application should be submitted within a month.
Patriot Renewables plans to hold a public informational meeting on its proposal sometime in March or April.