WOODSTOCK — The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday evening to sign a letter of support asking the Maine Land Use Planning Commission in Bangor to remove Milton Township from the state's expedited permitting area for wind energy development.
The letter stated the town made the request "for several reasons, foremost of which is our obligation to the citizens of Woodstock who, because of our contiguous border with Milton Township, will be in jeopardy of negative impacts to their property values, scenic views, and quality of life."
Last year, EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. of Pittsburgh received approval by the commission to erect a 197-foot meteorological test tower in Milton Township that would allow the company to collect wind data from the site for potential wind energy development.
According to the commission's website, 17 Milton Township residents signed and submitted a petition to the commission on Jan. 8 asking for their town to be removed from the expedited commercial wind project application process.
A public hearing to discuss the issue is scheduled for Aug. 10, with a location yet to be determined.
In the letter that the selectmen signed, they wrote that they had "only recently learned of a potential 12 turbine wind farm" proposed for Milton Township "that may have very serious consequences, not only for Woodstock and Milton Township residents, but also for our neighboring communities of Bethel, Rumford and Greenwood."
"We strongly feel that any wind farm developer should be obligated to inform and work closely with the communities to be impacted," the board wrote. "This had not occurred."
The letter also stated that the towns needed time to review the issue, "which the expedited permitting process limits and which also limits the standards of review when evaluating visual impacts as well as negative impacts to the natural environment."
In 2011, Patriot Renewables LLC constructed 10 wind turbines in Woodstock on Spruce Mountain. Shortly after, a group of residents began drafting a wind energy facility ordinance to strengthen regulations. Residents approved the ordinance in 2013 by a four-vote margin.
The letter sent to the commission stated concerns that the Milton Township wind project may interfere with the regulations within the Woodstock wind ordinance.
In other business, Town Manager Vern Maxfield said that the town had received the deed for the former state highway garage it purchased in March.
Voters in March approved buying the garage for $65,000, with the state's condition that it be used for transportation purposes. The 40- by 80-foot building will be used as a base for PACE Ambulance and Rescue Services, and for storage of additional town vehicles, Maxfield said.
The board also agreed last month to allow Maine State Police to set up an office in the building.
Maxfield said that the town was "in the process of contracting with someone to do sheet rock and electrical work."
He said that depending on the contractor's schedule, the building could be operational in about six weeks.