CARTHAGE — Protecting Mount Blue State Park and Webb Lake is at the forefront for Chris O'Neil, chairman of Friends of Maine Mountains.
The group filed an appeal with the Maine Bureau of Environmental Protection last week opposing Patriot Renewables LLC's wind project in Carthage.
The Quincy, Mass., firm doing business as Saddleback Ridge Wind LLC, has proposed construction of a $65 million, 32-megawatt project for the Carthage site. The project calls for 12 turbines to be built on Saddleback Ridge.
Friends of Maine Mountains' attorney, Rufus Brown, says there are many reasons for the appeal, including noise impact and negative visual impact.
Brown is upset over the possibility that the Department of Conservation and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands accepted benefits from the company.
Brown claims the Saddleback Ridge Project permit refers to a $60,000 payment to Parks and Lands and that he has an email from the DOC assistant deputy director saying, "DOC would be happy to accept any contributions from the developer for land protection efforts in this area."
"It is evident that there are discrepancies between state policies and the actions of state agencies," Brown said.
O'Neil said the DEP granted approval to the permit without having a public hearing.
"It's very apparent that there were many mistakes made along the way, prior to DEP's issuance of this permit," he said. "Mainers were disenfranchised. Due process went unheeded when a public hearing was denied."
In a letter to Brown, James Brooks, acting commissioner for the DEP, wrote, "Your request has been considered carefully; however, much of the information you have submitted has been considered by the department in previous applications and to the extent you have submitted new information I find that it is not sufficient to warrant a public hearing."
Mount Blue State Park and Webb Lake are also reasons for the appeal. The lake and park are in close proximity to the wind project.
Mount Blue State Park is Maine's largest state park, encompassing approximately 8,000 acres in two sections separated by Webb Lake. Trail enthusiasts, anglers and campers enjoy this region through warm-weather months. Snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and ice-skaters take advantage of the area in winter, according to the park's website.
"I invite anyone to take a ride around the circumference of the park" O'Neil said. "I defy them to classify Mount Blue State Park and Webb Lake as anything less than a Maine Treasure."