Franklin Countys First News

Redington annexation by Carrabassett Valley approved by legislative committee

AUGUSTA - A bill that allows the town of Carrabassett Valley to proceed with annexation plans of the adjacent Redington Township was approved by a legislative committee in a 8-3 vote, with two members absent, Monday. The bill now moves to the House and Senate for a vote.

LD 741, that authorizes "the annexation of a portion of Redington Township in Franklin County to the town of Carrabassett Valley" was amended in a Local and State Government Committee workshop session to include all of Redington Township instead of the 10,000 acres the bill had initially addressed.

The amendment to include all of Redington Township instead of a portion, was made by a state auditor who said it would make it more convenient for the state instead of dividing it up, said Dave Cota, Carrabassett Valley's town manager.

The bill would give the town's voters the option to decide the annexation question in a referendum to be held within a year of passage, if and when the full Legislature approves the measure.

The proposed bill is sponsored by Sen. Walter Gooley, R-Farmington. The plan to annex nearby land in the unorganized territories is to accommodate a wind power project proposed by Endless Energy Corp. of Yarmouth, Maine. The initial plan was for roughly 10,000 acres in northern Redington Township to be annexed, which was enough to encompass the proposed 90 megawatt project, consisting of 30 turbines and associated roads and lines.

Endless Energy Corp. hopes that the annexation, if approved by the Legislature and town of Carrabassett Valley, would breathe new life into a project that has had a rocky history with the state's Land Use Regulation Commission. The LURC committee came down against Endless Energy's proposal in February 2007. They ordered their staff, who had recommended the project be approved, to draft a new recommendation opposing the rezoning of Redington wind power project area.

Harley Lee, president of Endless Energy, then altered his proposal, instead asking LURC to consider a 18-turbine project on Black Nubble only. That proposal included a conservation plan for the Redington Pond Range, which was generally considered more environmentally-sensitive than Black Nubble, due to its lower elevation, reduced visibility and distance from the Appalachian Trail.

LURC eventually killed this proposal as well, at a meeting held in January 2008. At that time, Lee said that he saw potential in the soon-to-be released findings of the governor’s Wind Power Task Force. However, that report did not include Black Nubble within its “expedited review” area. Projects developed within an expedited review area would face less consideration for their scenic impact, a major stumbling block for Lee's project with the LURC committee.

However, LURC's rulings would have no authority in an organized town such as Carrabassett Valley. Lee is offering a number of benefits for residents, should his project finally be built.

“People will save on their property taxes, save on their power bill and save the planet,” Lee said in his brief presentation at a public meeting held in Carrabassett Valley on Jan. 5.

The $180 million project would represent a major impact on the town’s tax base, which Lee estimated at $480 million currently. Lee said that calculations suggested that the project could make the town's tax rate decrease by 21 percent, down from 6.2 mils to 4.9 mils in the first year.

Residents of the town could potentially save money on their electrical bills as well. Lee is proposing a system where residents pay $5,000 up front to his company when the wind farm is operational. In exchange, the Redington project would provide discounted power, at roughly half the current price, for 15 years. Seasonal residents could purchase discounted power at a price which would scale with their usage.

He noted that negotiations between Endless Energy and Boyne, the owner of Sugarloaf/USA and Sunday River, were ongoing as well.

Selectmen were unanimous in their support of sending the annexation question to the Legislature. If the Legislature approves the annexation, the question will go to a town vote after a series of public hearings are held. The town has up to one year to hold the town referendum.

"The board felt the the town should have a vote," Cota said of sending the question of annexation to the Legislature. "It is very fair to say selectmen are pleased with the vote that now goes to the full Legislature." If passed, then "it's a chance for local people to vote on the issue."

The initial decision to try for a partial annexation of Redington Township was because the federal government owns land there where it has held the U.S. Navy's survival school for years. Federal ownership was thought to possibly cause some complications in the bill's passage, but the state's consultants assured the committee it wasn't going to be an issue, Cota said.

Not everyone is in favor of the annexation. Representatives of Friends of the Boundary Mountains, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Maine Audubon Society, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club and Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, are in opposition to the project. Among the arguments were LURC's and the governor's wind power task force committee having both denied permission for Lee's project and idea that the annexation bill simply seeks a way to get around those rulings.

State Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, who serves on the Local and State Government Committee and voted in favor of the annexation, said it was not an easy decision for him.

"At the end of the day, it's a question of allowing Carrabassett Valley to decide its own future," Harvell said today. "It's all about local control."

For Lee, the vote is a hopeful sign that his wind power project is still alive.

"I was very gratified by the vote," Lee said. "We've been working on it for a long time and would love to see it come to fruition."

If the town approves the annexation, the Comprehensive Plan Committee would reconvene to amend the town's ordinance to include Regington Township, much the way they did in 1975 when the three-year-old town of Carrabassett Valley annexed nearby Sugarloaf Mountain.

Following more public hearings, if the ordinance amendment is approved in a town vote, the planning board would be entrusted to oversee the town's permits for construction of the turbines.

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7 Responses »

  1. I highly recommend reading the report listed below, i think its time we took a second look at wind. Buyer beware!

    Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy resources.

  2. Very well written article and analysis of the situation.
    Hopefully the full legislature will follow the committie's recommendation.
    Carrabassett valley has a good record of managing the land within its borders. This new addition, if it happens ,will open up many recreational opportunites that can help bring revenue to the Western Mtns of Franklin county.


    Hutch read this one too while you are at it.

  4. Git it done!! The left wing moonbats think wind mills look bad, well Sugarloaf Mountain looks bad IMO. You cant have both

  5. Bruce,

    I don't have to read it, as soon as i see the the word wikipedia, i know it is not a legitimate source! I highly suggest you do not use that site for information gathering!

  6. Wikipedia is a "people's encyclopedia" written and edited by the people who read it; so on controversial topics, one might expect to see a broad range of opinion. But on global warming, Wikipedia offers consensus, Gore-style -- a consensus forged by censorship, intimidation, and deceit.

    I challenge you to log in to Wikipedia and make an entry into Barrack Obama's page about his known launch place of his political career, the home of William Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, (note to libs that's two hence the use of the plural word terrorists) try to log in the next day and you will find you have been banned for a few days!

    this is a undisputed fact about Obama, yet wiki, does not want to cast a bad light on the messiah. Bias?

    i think so! This is the state of the media these days, so buyer beware.

  7. OK Hutch I thought you would like the pic.
    We all should assume your source is reliable I guess