DIXFIELD — Bob Sloan said hundreds of campers come to the Blueberry Mountain Bible Camp every year to get away from the busyness of everyday living.
Constructing wind turbines could take that experience away, he said at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection hearing Thursday night at Dirigo High School.
“We have an unspoiled view. We hike to get away from everybody,” Sloan said.
Others, such as Larry Hinds, said if the Saddleback Ridge wind turbine project is built, he will leave the state.
“I will sell my land and leave the state. Ecosystems will never come back again,” he said.
But it wasn't only opponents of the Carthage project who testified.
Some of the almost 150 people from many area towns said wind development would be a good thing for the state.
One was Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of the Greater Franklin Development Corp.
“Patriot Renewables has been a pleasure to work with," Hagerstrom said. "They are good corporate citizens. There would be 50-70 jobs during construction and two or three permanent jobs after.”
Also, the construction of a $58 million to $65 million project would have positive spinoff effects for peripheral businesses, she added.
The majority, however, were concerned with the perceived loss of natural beauty and silence.
Scott Lindsay, a Wilton resident, said he has tried to be objective about the Saddleback Ridge wind project, but he was concerned about the possible loss of Maine branding.
“I'm not convinced the end justifies the means. That's (3,000 megawatts by 2025) a significant amount of turbines. It would affect the Maine brand. People come here because it's fishing and hiking in Maine. Maine has a unique landscape and is not industrialized,” he said.
And Brad Blake, an active opponent of the Rollins Ridge wind project in Lincoln, said the state statute calling for developing 3,000 megawatts of wind power, is a heinous statute.
Prior to the public hearing, the River Valley Alliance Against Wind served a supper for about 50 people and held a session on the downside of wind development.
A couple of men who work in heavy construction said wind development was providing a way for them and others to stay in the state.
Brad Strout works for a company that builds high voltage power lines.
"Employees are very excited about this. This is an opportunity for this state so our children won't have to move for jobs,” he said.
The 12-turbine Saddleback Ridge project would be visible from many sections of Carthage, Wilton, Weld and other nearby towns.
The panel of DEP representatives will take both oral and written comments from the meeting Thursday, as well as comments and opinions from experts, and use them as part of the agency's decision process.
DEP project manager Mark Margerum said earlier that a decision on whether to grant the permit could be made in April.
Patriot Renewables is a Quincy, Mass., company that is also working on several other wind projects that are in various stages of development in Woodstock, Dixfield and Canton.