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County planners endorse wind regs

The 4-1 vote Wednesday, with members Bill David and Ted Robinette absent, came despite commission member Lois Crossland's objections to the zoning code text amendments as proposed. The document, still in its original form as presented to the public in January, will go before the Allegany County Commission. Thursday, the commissioners scheduled a public hearing on the issue for March 19 at 7 p.m. Crossland said the amendments don't go far enough "to protect citizens" and that blasting isn't mentioned in the document.

CUMBERLAND - The Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending a new set of regulations that would govern industrial and residential wind turbines.

The 4-1 vote Wednesday, with members Bill David and Ted Robinette absent, came despite commission member Lois Crossland's objections to the zoning code text amendments as proposed. The document, still in its original form as presented to the public in January, will go before the Allegany County Commission. Thursday, the commissioners scheduled a public hearing on the issue for March 19 at 7 p.m.

Crossland said the amendments don't go far enough "to protect citizens" and that blasting isn't mentioned in the document.

"From past experience," Crossland said, the amendments "don't suit the need" for additional protection. The blasting, she said, could result in existing homeowners' loss of water.

Crossland said it is the county's role to protect both companies and residents from the damage and liability the machines could create. The proposed amendments define a number of terms in both the industrial and residential wind energy industries. The industrial amendments, if approved, would establish minimum separation distances... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - The Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending a new set of regulations that would govern industrial and residential wind turbines.

The 4-1 vote Wednesday, with members Bill David and Ted Robinette absent, came despite commission member Lois Crossland's objections to the zoning code text amendments as proposed. The document, still in its original form as presented to the public in January, will go before the Allegany County Commission. Thursday, the commissioners scheduled a public hearing on the issue for March 19 at 7 p.m.

Crossland said the amendments don't go far enough "to protect citizens" and that blasting isn't mentioned in the document.

"From past experience," Crossland said, the amendments "don't suit the need" for additional protection. The blasting, she said, could result in existing homeowners' loss of water.

Crossland said it is the county's role to protect both companies and residents from the damage and liability the machines could create. The proposed amendments define a number of terms in both the industrial and residential wind energy industries. The industrial amendments, if approved, would establish minimum separation distances from schools, homes and habitats of rare, threatened or endangered species.

"An individual cannot fight a large industry," she said.

Crossland also noticed there are no limitations on height. Phil Hager, county planning coordinator and executive director of the Planning Commission, confirmed there are no height limits. However, the proposed amendments include clauses that create disincentives to build turbines higher than necessary. The required setback increases with the increased height of a turbine, Hager said.

The amendments also address "interference bond" issues related to communications towers atop Dans Mountain. Also, wind companies would be required to submit a bond equal to $150,000 for each turbine for decommissioning purposes.

The recommendation to approve came the day before a handful of wind turbine-related bills introduced by Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel were to be heard in the Maryland General Assembly. Crossland suggested the commission wait to learn of the outcome of any vote before acting.

Commission chairman Bill DuVall said approval of the amendments as presented was "not a rush to judgment" and that delaying action would result in the county having virtually no safeguards for residents.

"There's nothing to say that any time in the future, we couldn't readdress this," DuVall said. "My concern (is to) get something in place with a little more teeth in it."

DuVall said there could always be issues in the search for perfect regulations. Hager said the commission might want to consider creating a committee to continue the study of current regulations and future possibilities.

Member George Stimmel noted the document "could use improvement" but the board's endorsement is only a recommendation and the county commissioners have the last word. The discussion over the proposed amendments has been ongoing for nearly a year, he said, and Stimmel then made a motion to accept the amendments.


Source: http://www.times-news.com/a...

FEB 26 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19290-county-planners-endorse-wind-regs
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