Aroostook County town split on Wolfden decision

11 months ago

MT. CHASE, Maine — In a 33-to-33 vote, half of the Mt. Chase voters attending a May 23 special town meeting voted to support a Canadian junior mining company’s non-binding proposal for the Pickett Mountain mining project and half rejected it.

That was the second time Mt. Chase voters failed to approve the Wolfden Resources Corp. public relations document, seeking the town’s support of its proposed mining project near Mt. Chase.

In a tight, 15-14 vote, Mt. Chase residents voted in April to reject the resolution. But a recent petition circulated by Terry Thurston-Hill, a Mt. Chase resident and co-owner of Shin Pond Village, asked voters to reconsider the matter even though towns have no authority to approve the mine.

More than 80 people attended Tuesday’s town vote.

According to town officials, there are 124 registered voters in Mt. Chase, But that number only represents about 22 percent of the town’s property owners, the remaining 78 percent are non-residents.

Over the past year or so, Wolfden officials have been circulating the non-binding resolution for towns to sign in support of mining a 374-acre parcel of the 7,135-acre Pickett Mountain project. Mt. Chase was the only town in the area to stand up against signing Wolfden’s resolution.

The resolution, according to experts, has no bearing on state approval of the mining operation. Wolfden must first garner Maine Land Use Planning Commission approval of a rezoning application, a process that includes a public hearing on the matter this summer.

In January, the junior mining company filed a rezoning application with the LUPC, following the withdrawal of a 2020 rezoning attempt riddled with inconsistencies. In February, the LUPC asked Wolfden for more information about the proposed underground mining operation, again citing application inconsistencies and missing information.
According to Maine law, Wolfden must first garner LUPC rezoning approval, then seek a Department of Environmental Protection mining permit before any mining can take place. This is the first test of Maine’s strict mining laws.

LUPC staff are reviewing the rezoning application, prior to a public hearing this summer.