JAY — Central Maine Power Co. has requested the Planning Board to withhold consideration of its shoreland zoning permit application related to its proposed 145-mile transmission line until it makes its supplemental findings available to the board.

The March 10 meeting has been canceled.

CMP also asked that two board members recuse themselves from discussion and voting on the application.

The controversial $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect project to bring hydro power from Quebec to supply Massachusetts residents has received some permits but not all from state, federal and local entities.

Press Herald graphic by Michael Fisher

Petition organizers have collected enough signatures to put the proposal before voters statewide in November.

The Maine corridor would run from Beattie Township in northern Franklin County, through Somerset County to Lewiston in Androscoggin County. The line would connect to the New England power grid to bring clean, renewable energy to Massachusetts consumers, according to CMP.

The Planning Board requested information Feb. 12 on plans for health and safety, herbicide/pesticide and decommissioning. In addition, they want reports on surveys of rare plants, wildlife and significant habitat, wetlands and details of pole dimensions and emergency response outreach efforts.

“While this information is outside of the scope of the Planning Board’s review under the town’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance because it is beyond what is required to satisfy the approval criteria set forth in the (land use standards and approval standards,) CMP will supplement its Jan. 15 application with information pertinent to the board’s request,” according to a letter dated Feb. 21. It was sent to Planning Board Chairman Delance White on behalf of the board and to town Code Enforcement Officer Ronda Palmer from Matthew Manahan a lawyer with Pierce Atwood LLP in Portland.

“CMP ‘respectfully’ requests that the board withhold consideration of its application until it has made its supplemental findings,” Manahan wrote.

The board voted 5-1 on Feb. 12 to table the application until CMP receives all permits for the project.

The Shoreland Zoning Ordinance has a timeline to follow for the board to determine if the application is complete and if not, to ask for more information needed to complete it. Once it is deemed complete, the board has 35 days to decide to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the permit in writing.

The next meeting is on April 14.

Seven miles of the proposed high-voltage power line would go through Jay.

Six of the 38 single poles and three two-pole structures with an average height of 96 feet planned for Jay are governed by the town’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance. The line would cross within 250 feet of two resource protection districts, a limited residential district and two stream protection districts.

CMP also “respectfully” requested Planning Board members Susan Theberge and Linda Flagg abstain from any further discussion and voting on the application because of a “conflict of interest” with their known involvement as members of Say No To NECEC and No CMP Corridor, according to the letter. Theberge made the motion to table the application Feb. 12. Flagg was not present.

It is well established under Maine law that a Planning Board member must abstain from the discussion and the vote on the project if that member is biased against the applicant of the project, Manahan wrote.

If they don’t voluntarily recuse themselves, Manahan asked the Planning Board to vote on the issue of bias.

The town’s Environmental and Control and Improvement Ordinance, which outlines the establishment of the Planning Board, officers, duties and other factors, states that “Any member of the board may voluntarily disqualify himself or herself from voting on a particular matter for any reason, including conflict. In addition, a member shall be disqualified from voting on a particular matter for any reason by a majority vote of the members present and voting, except the member whose disqualification is at issue shall not vote on his or her own disqualification.”

“Failure of such a member to recuse herself deprives the applicant of its due process right to a fair and objective hearing,” according to the letter.

The Board of Selectpersons also has the authority to remove a member of the Planning Board for just cause following due process.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: