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County officials, staff to discuss wind turbines

A key factor in any decision the commissioners might make regarding the proposed amendments to the county zoning code could involve the recently adopted LaVale Region Comprehensive Plan. The proposed changes would impact any future industrial wind energy venture, Stakem noted, but only the Dan’s Mountain project has open permits with county government. Lewis said last week, and Stakem reiterated Monday, that the LaVale planning area does not permit industrial wind turbines.

CUMBERLAND — The public has weighed in on the proposed wind turbine regulations. So have the experts. And now Allegany County Commissioners Jim Stakem, Bob Hutcheson and Dale Lewis have a decision to make.

As the dust settles from more than a year of public meetings, phone calls and letters to the Times-News, Stakem said the discussion during Tuesday’s work session is limited to the commissioners and county staff.

Talks begin at 10 a.m. at the County Office Complex on Kelly Road. The meeting is to take place inside the same small office usually reserved for public work sessions, which can fit about two dozen spectators. Stakem said that’ll just have to do because commissioners’ chambers is booked due to long-scheduled annual tax lien sale proceedings.

“It’s going to be just like it always is” for a work session, Stakem said. “The purpose of this is for the commissioners to work with the staff to come up with decisions to resolve this. There’s not going to be room for a big audience. When we have these work sessions, we don’t open it to ... public (comment). We already had all that.”

A key factor in any decision the commissioners might make regarding the proposed amendments to the county... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND — The public has weighed in on the proposed wind turbine regulations. So have the experts. And now Allegany County Commissioners Jim Stakem, Bob Hutcheson and Dale Lewis have a decision to make.

As the dust settles from more than a year of public meetings, phone calls and letters to the Times-News, Stakem said the discussion during Tuesday’s work session is limited to the commissioners and county staff.

Talks begin at 10 a.m. at the County Office Complex on Kelly Road. The meeting is to take place inside the same small office usually reserved for public work sessions, which can fit about two dozen spectators. Stakem said that’ll just have to do because commissioners’ chambers is booked due to long-scheduled annual tax lien sale proceedings.

“It’s going to be just like it always is” for a work session, Stakem said. “The purpose of this is for the commissioners to work with the staff to come up with decisions to resolve this. There’s not going to be room for a big audience. When we have these work sessions, we don’t open it to ... public (comment). We already had all that.”

A key factor in any decision the commissioners might make regarding the proposed amendments to the county zoning code could involve the recently adopted LaVale Region Comprehensive Plan. The proposed changes would impact any future industrial wind energy venture, Stakem noted, but only the Dan’s Mountain project has open permits with county government.

Lewis said last week, and Stakem reiterated Monday, that the LaVale planning area does not permit industrial wind turbines. It’s possible up to six of the planned 25 wind turbines planned for Dan’s Mountain by US Wind Force could be targeted for sites that sit in the LaVale planning area.

US Wind Force President Tom Matthews told the commissioners during a public meeting earlier this month that the loss of even one more turbine would eliminate the project from being viable.

“Under the (plan), we cannot put any windmills in LaVale (planning area),” Stakem said Monday. “We’re going to abide by that. That would have to go through a whole new process.”

Even if that issue is resolved, residents’ concerns about groundwater source protection still exist. The proposed regulations call for a 3-mile clearance, but even Stakem thinks that’s too far. And decommissioning the turbines — the cost and procedure of tearing down the machines as they break or fail to operate over a specified period of time — also needs addressed, Stakem said.

Stakem said a gauge of success might be that any decision leaves both sides — people pro-wind energy and pro-regulation — a little unhappy.

“We’re trying to do this where it’s legal and right,” Stakem said. “When all is said and done, I doubt either side’s going to be too happy. But if that’s the case, it probably means (we) did this right.”

He said the commissioners are hoping to avoid litigation but that appears unlikely. US Wind Force already has threatened legal action. Proponents of Code Home Rule Bill 2-09, Stakem said, could be entitled to seek relief in court if they want.

As for public input, Stakem said there’s been an abundance of that already.

“The public has had over a year of input, really,” Stakem said. “Now it’s the commissioners’ time to sit down and talk with staff.”

Planned attendance is unknown but Stakem said he would rely on the presence of local media outlets to report on the discussion for people who don’t have a seat inside the room. A decision is not expected to be reached during the meeting.


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

MAY 18 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20337-county-officials-staff-to-discuss-wind-turbines
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