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9/25/2013 2:00:00 PM
Clary Lake Dam Owner Plans Second Petition For Release From Ownership
By Dominik Lobkowicz

Pleasant Pond Mill, LLC, the company that owns the dam impounding Clary Lake, has issued notices of intent to file a second petition for release from ownership of the dam.

An original petition for release filed on April 2 with the Department of Environmental Protection remains unresolved, according to Kathy Howatt, the hydropower coordinator for the department.

Howatt sent a letter to Paul Kelley, the manager of PPM, on May 17, advising him of the possibility of rejection of the petition due to apparent issues with notifying some of the lake's abutters about the intent to file the petition.

The letter offered the opportunity to withdraw the petition without prejudice so PPM could correct the deficiency.

"He has not withdrawn the petition, and the department has not returned the petition, because of the process," Howatt said in an interview Sept. 24.

PPM is required to file reports on compliance with the notice requirements and the consultation process within 180 days of filing petition, which would be by Sept. 29.

What exactly the DEP's ruling on the petition's status would be depends on what information is included in those reports, Howatt said.

"Prior to having those reports to look at, we can't determine what's going to be an outcome," she said.

If PPM does not file the reports, the failure would mean the company was out of compliance with the statute, Howatt said, adding she believes the petition would then be returned without prejudice.

The second petition is planned to be filed on or about Friday, Sept. 27, according to the notice.

In the first petition process, voters in the towns of Jefferson and Whitefield - the towns in which Clary Lake lies - both rejected taking ownership of the dam. Both towns were required by statute to "consider and act on the issue of dam ownership."

Kelley said in a Sept. 24 interview no offers to take over ownership of the dam that meet the statutory guidelines have yet emerged.

According to state statute, if a new owner is not found through the petition process, the DEP is required to order the dam owner to release the water from the dam.

George Fergusson, a member of the Clary Lake Association and the spokesperson for a yet-unresolved petition to the DEP to set a water level on the lake, said Sept. 24 the CLA has been drafting an offer to purchase the dam, contingent on the placement of a water level order.

"We won't take ownership of the dam until there's a water level order on it. They've made it impossible to own under any other circumstances," Fergusson said.

There is no reason negotiations on their offer to PPM could not commence in anticipation of a water level order being set, he said.

Fergusson said the association plans to take over a mortgage on the dam, which he said is a crucial part of their offer.

Whether or not a presentation of an offer will be made by CLA at the planned public consultation meeting on the second petition has yet been decided, he said.

The public consultation meeting for lake abutters and prospective owners of the dam is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Jefferson Fire Department.

According to a letter from PPM sent with the notice of intent to file, anyone interested in owning the dam should attend the meeting and "be prepared to discuss their formal offer in terms of a proposed Purchase & Sale Agreement."

"Only if such a proposed P&S Agreement addresses all of the necessary legal and statutory requirements, and is accompanied by an earnest money deposit toward the costs of ownership/transfer, will it form the basis of any future negotiations by the parties and/or their designated counsel(s)," the letter reads.

For a copy of the petition or other related information, the letter suggests contacting the DEP's Office of Hydropower and Dams at 446-2642.

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