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County approves restrictions on industrial wind projects

Citing 14 months of review by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission and four months of their own scrutiny, the county's commissioners voted quickly and unanimously Thursday to make more restrictive the rules for developing industrial wind turbines. The emergency changes to Code Home Rule Bill No. 2-09 diminish the possibility that US WindForce will construct a wind farm atop the northeastern end of Dan's Mountain.

CUMBERLAND - Citing 14 months of review by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission and four months of their own scrutiny, the county's commissioners voted quickly and unanimously Thursday to make more restrictive the rules for developing industrial wind turbines.

The emergency changes to Code Home Rule Bill No. 2-09 diminish the possibility that US WindForce will construct a wind farm atop the northeastern end of Dan's Mountain.

"Needless to say, we will pursue every legal, regulatory and policy option available to us for the reconsideration of this ill-fated decision," said Tom Matthews, president of US WindForce, on Thursday afternoon. "This is a huge disappointment in light of the six years of hard work and effort and millions of dollars worth of studies, research and analysis undertaken to get this $142 million project near construction."

Matthews contends that the decision sends a message to members of the skilled building trades that the commissioners don't care about jobs in Western Maryland and to property owners that their rights to use their land as they see fit are not important.

"We have heard everybody's comments for more than a year," said Commission President Jim... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CUMBERLAND - Citing 14 months of review by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission and four months of their own scrutiny, the county's commissioners voted quickly and unanimously Thursday to make more restrictive the rules for developing industrial wind turbines.

The emergency changes to Code Home Rule Bill No. 2-09 diminish the possibility that US WindForce will construct a wind farm atop the northeastern end of Dan's Mountain.

"Needless to say, we will pursue every legal, regulatory and policy option available to us for the reconsideration of this ill-fated decision," said Tom Matthews, president of US WindForce, on Thursday afternoon. "This is a huge disappointment in light of the six years of hard work and effort and millions of dollars worth of studies, research and analysis undertaken to get this $142 million project near construction."

Matthews contends that the decision sends a message to members of the skilled building trades that the commissioners don't care about jobs in Western Maryland and to property owners that their rights to use their land as they see fit are not important.

"We have heard everybody's comments for more than a year," said Commission President Jim Stakem during Thursday's public meeting. "We are damned if we do and damned if we don't," he added, following praise from Harwood resident Darlene Park, who has long expressed concern about the potential turbine development on the mountain ridge above her home. "We know we can't make everybody happy," Stakem said.

The amended bill requires that a turbine can be no closer than 2,000 feet to a residence and must be at least 1,000 feet from significant, unoccupied structures.

Environmental protections and bonds for tearing down unworkable wind turbines, both opposed by US WindForce, were kept in place.

"We had to deal with the matter," Stakem said, referring to the state's legislative decision in 2007 to hold wind energy projects lower than 70 megawatts to less scrutiny by Maryland government. "The state put the burden on the county's shoulders."

In thanking the commissioners for their action, Park said they created a benchmark for all other Maryland counties to protect citizens against the impacts of wind development.

US WindForce had suggested 25 wind turbines for the crest of Dan's Mountain.

Washington-based Frank Maisano, who represents a coalition of wind energy developers, said Thursday that the commissioners were swayed by a small group of wrong and loud activists. "The decision by the county commissioners also likely eliminates any possibility that manufacturing companies that make items for wind energy production will come to the Cumberland area," Maisano said. "This is a double economic loss of a half million dollars to the county and a similar amount that would have gone into the pockets of landowners and probably been spent right there in the community. The local decision runs counter to what is happening in the rest of the region and throughout the country."


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

JUN 4 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20527-county-approves-restrictions-on-industrial-wind-projects
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