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County leaders likely will vote on wind turbine regulations Thursday

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote Thursday whether to adopt or reject zoning code amendments that would offer strict - but some say necessary - regulations for industrial wind energy facilities.

CUMBERLAND - The Allegany County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote Thursday whether to adopt or reject zoning code amendments that would offer strict - but some say necessary - regulations for industrial wind energy facilities.

The meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the County Office Complex on Kelly Road. It is open to the public.

David Eberly, acting county administrator, presented on Thursday during the commissioners' weekly public meeting an updated version of Code Home Rule Bill 2-09, seen by many local residents as much-needed safety precautions and by others as too broad, with language that would eliminate the chance commercial wind farms - and the jobs and tax revenue that come with them - in Allegany County.

The commissioners approved making this week's meeting an additional legislative day that will permit them to vote on the proposed amendments. A copy of the updated legislation and recent Times-News coverage can be viewed online at www.times-news.com.

While the proposed amendments would be implemented countywide, much of the conversation among county staff and Commissioners Jim Stakem, Bob Hutcheson and Dale Lewis has been the planned US Wind Force project atop Dan's... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - The Allegany County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote Thursday whether to adopt or reject zoning code amendments that would offer strict - but some say necessary - regulations for industrial wind energy facilities.

The meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the County Office Complex on Kelly Road. It is open to the public.

David Eberly, acting county administrator, presented on Thursday during the commissioners' weekly public meeting an updated version of Code Home Rule Bill 2-09, seen by many local residents as much-needed safety precautions and by others as too broad, with language that would eliminate the chance commercial wind farms - and the jobs and tax revenue that come with them - in Allegany County.

The commissioners approved making this week's meeting an additional legislative day that will permit them to vote on the proposed amendments. A copy of the updated legislation and recent Times-News coverage can be viewed online at www.times-news.com.

While the proposed amendments would be implemented countywide, much of the conversation among county staff and Commissioners Jim Stakem, Bob Hutcheson and Dale Lewis has been the planned US Wind Force project atop Dan's Mountain. In fact, the impact of any changes proposed by staff or US Wind Force personnel have been illustrated in multiple diagrams during a series of public meetings.

Much to the consternation of US Wind Force representatives, county staff rejected all but one of a half-dozen suggestions made by the Pennsylvania-based wind company. US Wind Force President Tom Matthews submitted alternate language during a public meeting in early May that he hoped the commissioners would consider.

But much like locals not wanting state planning officials to dictate Allegany County land-use decisions, the commissioners didn't seem happy with US Wind Force's chosen course of action.

"I don't think it's right for outsiders to make the plan for us," Hutcheson said of an effort to circumvent the county planning commission's 14-month pursuit of suitable regulations.

The one area of concession Stakem and his fellow commissioners appear to agree on involves the groundwater protection bonds. Initial legislation proposed a 3-mile radius from a project. Stakem, however, has said repeatedly that the distance was too great.

Instead, county staff now is recommending a 1-mile radius.

A less significant change is the county's willingness to consider adding the definition of "structure." Without one, Matthews and others said a turbine could be eliminated from a planned project due to setbacks and separation distances from a birdhouse or shed.

The definition now notes that a qualifying structure includes no less than 600 square feet of occupiable space.


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

MAY 31 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20483-county-leaders-likely-will-vote-on-wind-turbine-regulations-thursday
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