Wilton Planning Board holds off on NECEC application vote

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The Wilton Planning Board met Thursday to discuss the start of the New England Clean Energy Connect corridor that will cross through a part of the town.

WILTON – The Wilton planning board met Thursday night to discuss the site plan proposed by New England Clean Energy Connect. Ownership of the project is changing from CMP to the NECEC, though they will still be working in conjunction with CMP and will be using their staff for the project. The original plan was submitted in November of 2019.

The NECEC is proposing to build an above ground electrical transmission line that will cross through the Town of Wilton. The project is planning to pass primarily through the far east side of town and it will occupy flat agricultural locations, though some clearing will need to be done in certain areas.

The controversial construction for the energy corridor broke ground this week further north at The Forks.

The U.S. First Circuit of Appeals issued an injunction pending a review of an issued permit to the NECEC. The order is temporary but halts construction in the 54 mile area between The Forks and Quebec. The NECEC has started work outside of that segment and has already raised two poles as of February 16.

Gerry Mirabile, NECEC Permitting Manager and James Morin presented to the planning board their changes in their application which they provided on February 4. Planning Board member, Lisa Small voiced dissatisfaction with having received the 37 page Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law the day before the February 18 meeting.

The NECEC is planning to place five poles, all on CMP owned land and within the existing corridor, though the corridor will be expanded by 75 feet. The height of poles will range between 91 and 113.5 feet. The poles will not be placed in any wetland areas though they wires will pass over them.

These poles will be carrying a new fiber optic broadband cable that is intended to deliver high speed internet to rural areas.

The Planning Board voiced concern over potential problems if a cable were to fall, according to Nicholas Achorn, Project Manager at Black and Veatch, if a wire were to fall and hit the ground a censor would trip, shutting down all 145 miles of line.

All herbicide usage must be approved by the Planning Board. The existing corridor is treated with herbicides every four years to keep trees from interfering with the lines. These herbicides are approved by the Maine Department of Environmental protection and would be the same ones that they are already using on the existing corridor.

The Planning Board did not wish to approve the application until after a scheduled public hearing on March 4. Though, all members of the Planning Board voted that the application is complete and meets the standards of the ordinance.

The board will do the fact finding for the application after the public hearing on March 4.

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