CMP passes first hurdle in Alna line request

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 8:30am

    Central Maine Power will get back to Alna’s planning board on fire control and other questions the board asked over Zoom July 6. CMP plans about 5.3 miles of new line and 48 poles in Alna as part of an about 26 1/2-mile, 345-kilovolt line from the Cooper’s Mills substation to the Maine Yankee substation in Wiscasset, said Gary Emond of POWER Engineers in Freeport. The new line will run between the two already in CMP’s rights of way in town, Emond told the board. Three poles are in either a shoreland zone or a floodplain, he said.

    Emond said state and federally approved herbicides will be spot-sprayed from backpacks onto vegetation and not onto open water. At Chair Jim Amaral’s request, Emond will name the herbicides and any human risk from contact. And member Beth Whitney said CMP in 2019 said it would get back to Fire Chief Mike Trask, but has not. She said he asked if the department would get keys to any gates and if roads into the lines would be maintained in case the department needs access for a grass fire.

    Amaral said he would like to hear from Trask about access and equipment for fire control. “I don’t think any of us would be surprised if we end up with two, three, four days of 100-degree weather at this point, so I’m concerned about fire hazards, where we’re increasing the transmission line ... by 30%.”

    Emond said CMP generally does not maintain roads in rights of way, in part to avoid slash serving as tinder; board member Taylor McGraw said Alna Snowmobile Club has keys to all gates.

    Amaral recalled an osprey nest in the area. Emond said the project will affect no osprey nests. Osprey tolerate noise, he said.

    Emond said he will get the board a map showing where the poles would go in the shoreland zone and floodplain.

    The public can view CMP’s application at the town office, board members said.

    Whitney argued for a public hearing. Amaral, member Joel Verney and CMP lawyer Emily Dupraz said one was not needed. Since it is on the corridor, Verney said, “I don’t understand why people would have an issue.” And if they do, they can speak in the meetings, he said.

    “But it’s not the same thing,” Whitney said. “This is a really big project,” and a hearing would show due diligence on the board’s part, just as Amaral wanted the whole board at the July 22 site visit, she said.

    Past shoreland applicant and past board chair Jeff Spinney said his project got a hearing and he had to provide all documents electronically; not requiring the same for “one of the biggest projects in the state of Maine” is inconsistent, he said. Whitney’s bid for a hearing lost 2-3. The board found the application complete, 5-0, and set the 6 p.m. July 22 site visit. “Spray yourselves down for the ticks,” Whitney told fellow members. They will meet at the junction of Lothrop Road and the CMP corridor, according to a notice in a July 9 town email.

    Member Peter Tischbein recused himself from the CMP matter due to his U.S. Army Corps of Engineers job. CMP got a permit from that agency for the project, Tischbein explained.

    Also July 6, the board approved requests from Ian and Pamela Arnold for a building and driveway at 34A North Old Sheepscot Road, and Lindsey Medeiros, for Temperance Folk Herbs, 91 Dock Road. Medeiros said she plans to sell at farmers’ markets and elsewhere, not at home.