ROXBURY – A recent federal ruling that rejected 13 of 22 proposed wind turbines in Roxbury because of height restrictions was based on incorrect information, after all.

As of March 18, the Air Traffic Airspace Branch of the Federal Aviation Administration reversed its Jan. 29 rulings by determining that the 13 turbines will pose no hazards to air traffic.

According to Tom Judge, executive director of medical helicopter service LifeFlight of Maine, incorrect information about the elevation of an air traffic holding-pattern zone in the project area above Record Hill and Partridge Peak was used.

“It was a misunderstanding with the holding pattern, which is up at 3,000 feet, and not at 700 feet,” Judge said on Wednesday afternoon from Lewiston. “It was just caused by someone looking at something and not fully understanding it, and not being part of the process.”

Contacted Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas, FAA Air Traffic Airspace Branch specialist Michael Blaich confirmed Judge’s explanation.

“The trapezoid was not figured out correctly the first time,” Blaich said. “There should have been a ‘No Effect’ right from the get-go.”

The ruling reversal was great news for Rob Gardiner of Cumberland Foreside, one of two wind power developers behind the proposed $120 million Record Hill Wind LLC project.

“We’re pleased to have this straightened out,” said Gardiner of himself and business partner Angus King of Brunswick. “There was no reason that it should be a problem. There are no aircraft problems whatsoever with this project.”

After learning of the FAA rulings in January, Gardiner said that he and King believed all along that the FAA findings were based on erroneous information. Judge, too, said the initial rulings made no sense to him, either.

“We fly at 1,600 to 2,000 feet over the flatlands and 2,500 feet or more over hills, so with a 500-foot-high wind turbine on a mountain top, we’re going to be way higher than that. At the outset (of the rulings), we were scratching our heads, because we didn’t understand it. We thought, ‘Gee, we’re pretty far from that wind farm,'” Judge said.

LifeFlight, which is also part of the emergency response group for the Mars Hill wind farm in Aroostook County, has been collecting and submitting helicopter global positioning system data to the FAA for its helipad approaches across the state.

Judge said it was LifeFlight’s information for the Rumford Hospital helipad that was misconstrued.

The 13 turbines would be located just over 7½ nautical miles northwest of the hospital helipad.

“It was all sorted out in three days and now it’s not a problem. Our guys know where the wind facilities are and (turbines) don’t prevent helicopters from flying. We’re more concerned with unlit cell phone towers along the interstate. At least wind turbines are lit,” Judge said.

Record Hill Wind, composed of Independence Wind principals King and Gardiner and landowner Bayroot LLC of Delaware, has proposed building a wind-power facility with 22 2.5-megawatt turbines along 3½ miles of ridge on Partridge Peak, Flathead Mountain and the southern slope of Record Hill.

The project continues to undergo required review by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.


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