Articles filed under Noise from Maine
FREEDOM - The town's Board of Appeals has rejected plans to erect three electricity generating wind turbines on Beaver Ridge. After four weeks of hearings, the board late Thursday found Portland-based Competitive Energy Service's turbines would not meet town standards for noise, said Addison Chase, chairman of the appeals board. The board also ruled that CES must post bonding for future demolition of the turbines. The planning Board approved CES's application in December. Planning board members agreed with a study that determined the turbines would not exceed the 45 decibel limit set in the ordinance. The vote was 3 to 0. Francis Walker abstained from the vote. Appeals board members determined that the study had been based on faulty ambient, or background, noise levels, Chase said. The planning board had required CES to post a bond for the construction phase, but Chase said the ordinance clearly requires the company to bond for future demolition as well. CES can appeal Thursday's decision to Waldo County Superior Court or start the process over again with the Planning Board.
MARS HILL, Maine — Something has turned terribly sour for about 18 homeowners who live along the mountain roads where the state’s first and only wind farm has recently gone on line. To a man and to a woman, they feel betrayed, cheated, used, ignored, and dismissed. Put them in a room and they are spitting mad. Collectively, as they gather on a Saturday morning inside a home that sits in the shadow of the turbines, their anger is barely palatable. Since the turbines started up, they say, silence has become a luxury.
MARS HILL, Maine — This year, when Steven and Tammie Fletcher took their traditional New Year’s Eve walk to the top of Mars Hill, the crisp winter stillness mixed with something unfamiliar: the whoosh of the new windmills towering over the northern Maine mountaintop. This is not how it was supposed to be, say the Fletchers and their neighbors on the north side of Mars Hill, where a 28-turbine wind farm, the largest yet built in New England, began operating in December. Residents say that town officials and company representatives repeatedly assured them that the wind farm would be silent. Instead, they say, the windmills have disrupted their mountainside idyll. On days with low cloud cover, when the pulsing, rushing noise is loudest, wind farm neighbors say it can disrupt their sleep and drown out the rushing brook that was once the only sound here. “It changes your whole feeling about being in the woods,” said Tammie Fletcher, whose mountainside house boasts floor-to-ceiling views of the ridge where the windmills now stand.
FREEDOM -- Given their first chance to ask questions about a proposed wind turbine project, board of appeals members on Thursday offered a glimpse of the concerns they will carry into deliberations. Representatives of Competitive Energy Services, which hopes to erect three electricity generating wind turbines on Beaver Ridge, were quizzed on issues of noise and whether they would be able to hook the turbines into the electrical grid, should the project go forward. Anthony Rogers, the consultant hired by Competitive Energy to conduct a sound study, said he did not take ambient noise readings before concluding the proposed turbines would meet the 45-decibel limit mandated by the ordinance. He based his findings on an ambient, or background, noise level of 35 decibels. Steve Bennett, one of several abutters appealing the planning board's December decision to grant a permit for the project, said ambient sound readings he took over several days never fell below 33.5 decibels. "The predicted sound levels (of the turbines) are very close to the limit," said appeals board member Francis Walker. "Whether there are ambient noises or not might make the difference in whether the project is compliant or not."
The appeal by disgruntled neighbors of a proposed wind turbine project in Freedom moved into its second session in as many weeks Thursday evening with disparaging “earwitness” testimony about the disturbing sound the spinning rotor blades are said to make. In the latest round before the town appeals board, it was also revealed a federal postal investigator was in town earlier this week looking into what happened to some notices of appeal of the project supposedly mailed last month to the town office by a Bangor attorney that by all accounts never arrived at their destination. Perrin Todd drove three and a half hours Tuesday from his home in Mars Hill to tell about what it’s like to live next-door to an operating wind farm. What he had to say was not encouraging for Steve Bennett and other property owners near the Beaver Ridge site where Competitive Energy Services (CES), a national firm with offices in Portland, is prepared to invest up to $12 million to erect three1.5 MW tower-mounted wind turbines on a 75-acre parcel owned by local farmer Ron Price.
Opponents of the wind turbine project atop Beaver Ridge wrapped up their case Thursday, Feb. 8, before the board of appeals. Bearor invited Perrin Todd, a resident of Mars Hill, to come to Freedom and describe the volume and quality of noise from wind turbines recently installed there. Ultimately, there will be 28 turbines strung along the mountain for which the Aroostook County town is named. Richard Silkman, a partner in CES. Silkman said the two projects were so different that there was little to be gained from Todd’s testimony. “[His] comments are about a project that is not on Beaver Ridge, not even in the same county,” said Silkman. If appeals board members considered Todd’s comments to be valuable, said Silkman, they should also hear about the hundreds of other wind turbine projects across the United States. Furthermore, said Silkman, the noise limits set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for the Mars Hill project were far higher than those allowed by the Commercial Development Review Ordinance in Freedom. “You’re absolutely right; the DEP has higher limits,” countered Bearor. “Mr. Todd is a living example [of the impact] of that.”
FREEDOM — Perrin Todd’s home near the wind turbine site in Mars Hill has been invaded, not by thieves or pests, but something equally annoying. “It’s a very troubling noise,” Todd told the town’s board of appeals at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s a disturbing noise.” Attorney Ed Bearor, who represents Steve Bennett and others who are appealing the planning board’s December decision to allow three electricity-generating turbines on Beaver Ridge, wrapped up his argument on Thursday, leaving the decision of whether to overturn the planning boards decision in the hands of the board of appeals. Todd, whose home is 2,100 feet removed from the nearest turbine, more than double the distance of the home closest to the proposed Beaver Ridge turbine, urged the board to use greater caution than town officials in Mars Hill had used.
In the Aroostook County town of Mars Hill, 28 wind turbines will soon be generating electricity. Even before they begin commercial operation, however, the windmills are generating considerable controversy. The biggest issue is noise.
Residents say the wind turbines atop Mars Hill Mountain are making noise and they want it fixed, but town officials aren’t sure whether anyone can do anything about it. More than 40 residents who live around the mountain crammed into the town office Monday night during the Mars Hill Town Council meeting to register concerns about the Mars Hill Wind Farm. Town councilors spent almost two hours trying to answer the crowd’s questions, but said the issue cannot be fully addressed until a sound analysis is done showing whether the noise exceeds Department of Environmental Protection regulations. Everyone agrees that, since the project’s beginning, people were told there would be no noise. But since mid-December, town and company officials and the Department of Environmental Protection have been fielding noise complaints.
Wendy and Perrin Todd knew what would happen to their view of Mars Hill Mountain when crews starting erecting wind towers near their backyard. They braced themselves when their home, newly built on the north side of the mountain, shook because of the blasting. But what shocked them — and what they said this week they should not be expected to live with — is the noise. “They turned on tower Number 9, and almost immediately it made enough noise that it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that can’t be right,’” Wendy Todd said. “It all depends on the wind speed and direction, but the best way to describe it is you step outside and look up thinking there’s an airplane. It’s like a high-range jet, high-low roar, but with the windmills, there’s a sort of on and off ‘phfoop … phfoop … phfoop’ noise.”
It seems few in this town of about 1,500 people can agree on UPC Wind Management’s newly completed $85 million project, which makes the unassuming potato-growing and truck-brokerage community home to New England’s largest wind farm. But there’s one thing everybody can agree on: The place sure looks different. Long before a visitor arrives at Mars Hill, the towers become visible along what used to be just another mountain. The total height from the ground to the tip of the blade is 389 feet. Each tower has three blades, which spin in winds whipping west to east toward Canada just a few miles away.
Now that the major potential stumbling block of just how much noise would be produced by three giant wind turbine installations topping out at nearly 400 feet over Beaver Ridge in Freedom lies behind them, members of the town planning board return to their deliberations this Thursday on the application by Competitive Energy Services (CES) to build the $12 million wind power project. That session, which could conclude the board’s role in the project, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the town offices.
The Freedom Planning Board should revisit its decision to close the hearing and ask CES to address lingering questions about project. A few weeks’ delay is less important than ensuring the board meets its responsibility to abutting landowners and other residents of Freedom.