ROXBURY — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday gave conditional approval for a $120 million windmill project on town hills.

That means Record
Hill Wind LLC could get the go-ahead for its 50.6-megawatt development on Aug. 20, the day DEP Commissioner David Littell will render the final
licensing decision on the company’s pending site plan review permit, project manager Beth Callahan reported in an e-mail.

According to Maine
law, a draft licensing decision must be made available to the applicant or any
interested party at least five working days before the
commissioner takes final action on the application.

Callahan said that during the DEP review process, the department
received comments from 132 people. Those people or any others can now contact
the DEP to comment on its 60-page draft licensing decision.

According to statute, the department can incorporate
comments on draft decisions at its discretion.

Record Hill Wind principals are Angus King and Robert Gardiner.

The proposed development consists of 22 wind turbines and
associated turbine pads, electrical collection infrastructure (below-ground
power line and above-ground, down-mountain transmission corridor), an electrical
collector substation, and an operations and maintenance building. It would comprise an area of
18.4 acres of new impervious area and 18.8 acres of new developed area.

King and Gardiner plan to erect 22 Siemens wind
turbines, each of which is capable of generating 2.3 megawatts.

The turbines would be constructed in a north-south
orientation along the ridge lines of Record Hill, Flathead
Mountain
and Partridge
Peak
.

Each turbine is
about 262 feet tall, from the ground to the center of the hub, while
the total height from ground to the tip of a fully extended turbine blade is
about 415 feet.

They also propose to construct nearly 6 miles of access roads
and a crane path. Mine Notch Road
is the primary access to the ridge line for component delivery, operations and
maintenance. Part of that road would be
widened to 16 feet and the road would be extended by just over a mile to fully
access the ridge line.

The project is still undergoing federal review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Selectmen deny petition

On Tuesday night, the Roxbury Board of Selectmen removed the only other legal hurdle when they voted 2-1 to deny a citizen-initiated petition seeking to rescind town laws
allowing wind power facilities to be built on town ridges.

Chairman John Sutton and Selectman Michael Worthley voted to deny the petition, while Selectman Deborah DeRoche, an outspoken opponent of the wind-power project, voted for the petition.

Last month, Sutton said the board agreed to
have lawyer Jennifer Kreckel of Rumford review the petition before selectmen decided to follow its intent. He said selectmen had 60 days from June 23 — when
the petition was submitted — to make a decision.

He said Kreckel reviewed the document and said selectmen had to either accept it or deny it.

Reasons Sutton gave Tuesday night to reject the petition were, that, “One, we already voted
two times before on this and the outcomes were the same both times.


“Two,
case law supports our position to deny the petition and, three, I didn’t think
it was in the best interest of the town to have another vote,” he said.

Also at the meeting was Steve Thurston, spokesman for the People’s Task Force on Wind Power, formerly known as Concerned Citizens to
Save Roxbury. They oppose the project.

After the meeting, Thurston said by e-mail, “It’s a sad day among many sad days for those of us who love the peace
and
quiet of the mountains, and understand that the (state’s) goal of 2,700 megawatts will require 50 projects like the one in Roxbury.”

Thurston is a fourth-generation camp owner at Roxbury Pond and, like other camp owners there, will see and hear the wind towers, which will be built along the ridge line east of the pond.

“Unfortunately, for those of us who prefer the silhouette of an unspoiled ridge
against the backdrop of a sunset
sky, King and Gardiner appear at the moment
to have the upper hand,” Thurston said.

 

Gardiner agreed.

“Today is a big day for us in getting both the draft
licensing permit decision and the Roxbury selectmen ruled in our favor,”
Gardiner said late Tuesday night.

Both he and King attended Tuesday night’s selectmen meeting.

“We’re very pleased,” Gardiner said.
“Obviously, the DEP completed its scientific review and found our answers
to be satisfactory, so we feel that clearly, we’ve met all of the standards
within margin to spare.”

Gardiner additionally said that although the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers is reviewing the project for wetland concerns, he feels
confident that they, too, will approve it.

“Their standards are very clear, but our project is
only affecting less than one acre of wetland, so it will be very easy for us to
get approval,” he said.

According to the DEP draft licensing decision, the
department approved the Record Hill Wind Project subject to 21 conditions, and
all applicable standards and regulations.

Among the conditions are that Record Hill Wind must implement
a sound-level compliance assessment plan and submit the results to the DEP for
review and approval within one calendar year of the project’s start of
operation and submit a pre-blast survey for DEP review prior to any site
blasting.

They must also conduct a pre-construction meeting to discuss the construction
schedule and the erosion and sediment control plan with the appropriate parties.

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