Woolwich voters may get CMP corridor questions

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 7:00am

Woolwich residents opposed to the New England Clean Energy Connect, Central Maine Power’s corridor project, have submitted a petition for a town-wide referendum. The petition was received in time for consideration at the polls Nov. 5.

Reached by telephone Monday, Sept. 9, Chairman David King Sr. said the petition would be taken up when the board next meets on Monday, Sept. 16. King noted the town office had also received a request under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act for information related to CMP’s corridor project.

Town Clerk Chelsea Lane said the petitioners beat a Friday, Sept. 6 deadline for two questions on the project. By 5 p.m. Friday, Lane had verified 180 signatures; 178 were needed – 10 percent of Woolwich’s voter turnout at the last gubernatorial election.

The petitioners requested two separate articles. The first reads: “To see if the Town will vote to oppose the Central Maine Power (CMP) New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) 145 Mile Hydro-electric Transmission Line Project from Quebec border through the State of Maine?”

The second one reads: “To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Selectmen to submit a letter of opposition to: Central Maine Power (CMP) New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), Maine Public Utilities Commission, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and Maine Land Use Planning Commission; on behalf of the Inhabitants of the Town of Woolwich in the event that Article #1 is passed with a YES vote?”

Lane said Woolwich residents Danielle Friend, Sherri Harvey, Rachel Murphy and Ruth Behring were among those who turned in petitions.

On Sept. 3, selectmen Dale Chadbourne and Allison Hepler voted to rescind the board’s earlier support for the project. “The voters now have the opportunity to speak their minds, which is as it should be,” Chadbourne told the Wiscasset Newspaper.

“Obiviously, I hope to help persuade townspeople that the corridor is not in the best interests of Maine but am looking forward to and welcome the debate,” stated Hepler in an email to the newspaper.

Town Administrator Kim Dalton said the Freedom of Access Act request was from Sandra Howard of Carratunk. She is the director of Say No to NECEC. The request came in on Thursday, Sept. 5 in the form of an email, said Dalton. Howard requested all “electronic and written communications” that selectmen King, Jason Shaw, Allen Greene and the town administrator have had with CMP officials, consultants, contractors and subcontractors relating to the corridor project. Town officials have five days from receipt of the Freedom of Access Act request to acknowledge it.

On Sept 3, King, Shaw and Greene voted against rescinding the board’s earlier support for the CMP corridor project.

In other elections business, the town clerk said Chadbourne and Greene were the only residents to return nomination papers for the two, three-year seats on the board. Both will be on the town ballot in November.