WILTON — The Planning Board on Thursday, March 4, approved Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect pole construction application, adding four conditions to the permit. All members of the board approved the permit except Lisa Small who abstained.

The permit allows the company to build five high-transmission poles across nearly one mile of agricultural fields from McCrillis Corner Road to Wilton Road/Route 156. The poles will be part of CMP’s 145-mile corridor for transmitting Hydro-Québec energy from the province of Québec, Canada to Massachusetts.

The anticipated value of the CMP infrastructure for the corridor in Wilton is $2,516,720 which would result in $50,334.40 of additional tax revenue for the town.

Central Maine Power Company owns about a one-mile tract of land from McCrillis Corner Road, pictured above, to Wilton Road/Route 156. The existing corridor will be widened by 75 feet to make space for five new poles with heights ranging from 91 to 113 feet for the high-transmission lines. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

During the board’s previous meeting, members determined that the site plan application was in compliance with Section 5.27 of the town’s Energy/Transportation Conduits Ordinance which pertains to the protection of wetland areas, limited residential and recreational zones from the development of conduits.

Public comments were taken and a finding of fact was completed prior to voting. Selectperson Tom Saviello who is also the lead petitioner for the No CMP Corridor Referendum, provided provisional suggestions for the permit in regards to the town’s ordinance.

Saviello referenced his experience serving on Maine’s Board of Pesticides Control when recommending that CMP post warning signs of pesticide application two months prior to application, that they remain posted for 30 days and that they are apparent every 100 feet.

The board adopted a pesticide warning provisional standard stating that the town must be notified prior to the application and that signs must be posted for 30 days after application and are visible and legible from the road and property line.

The board included the condition that the transmission line will not result in noise levels that are greater than or equal to 30 decibels above ambient nonoperating noise levels as measured at the nearest property line. According to NECEC, at the edge of the corridor’s right of way the maximum noise levels would reach 28 decibels.

The board adopted the condition that NECEC’s permit is valid in Wilton so long as the project has all required state and federal permits.

Board member Gwendolyn Doak suggested the inclusion of a provisional standard that guaranteed CMP would cover all removal and land recovery costs in case the NECEC project was revoked or abandoned. Doak referenced the citizen petition accepted by the Secretary of State on Feb. 22 which has the potential to halt the corridor through November’s referendum vote.

She also referred to U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s March 4 letter sent to new Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm calling for an agency review of the presidential permit for the NECEC corridor.

The letter reads, “The Presidential permit for the NECEC project makes clear that it can be ‘modified or revoked
by the President of the United States without notice, or by DOE after public notice, and may be amended by DOE after proper application thereto.’ In an effort to ensure a transparent and thorough permitting process, I urge you to reevaluate the issuance of the Presidential permit and provide Mainers with the opportunity to engage with your agency through a public comment process that is merited for the significance of this project.”

The board adopted the standard requiring a performance guarantee in the form of a letter of credit in the amount of $1.09 million for the removal of poles, wires and all other electrical equipment, as well as site restoration in the case of abandonment. 

Construction on the corridor in Wilton is anticipated to begin in August.

In other business, the board approved Brooke Averill’s business use application to operate Wiggles & Giggles Daycare at 15 School St. Averill will be licensed for 10 children with hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

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