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Wind turbine hope hits MDE policy hurdle

Ocean City put a law on their books allowing residential wind turbines specifically because Jim Motsko came to them asking for one. Now, an unforeseen snag has thrown up a new hurdle in his two-year quest.

OCEAN CITY -- Ocean City put a law on their books allowing residential wind turbines specifically because Jim Motsko came to them asking for one. Now, an unforeseen snag has thrown up a new hurdle in his two-year quest.

Here's the technicality: Any pole-mounted windmills must be set back from abutting property lines at a distance of 1.1 times the height of the turbine. For example, a 10-foot pole needs to be 11 feet from the neighbor's fence. The law also says those setbacks can be waived if the neighbor grants an easement.

But what happens if the neighbor isn't another homeowner, but is the state of Maryland? That's the scenario Motsko faces, because his Sixth Street home is adjacent to the Isle of Wight Bay, wetlands controlled by the state Department of the Environment. And MDE won't grant easements for anyone but utility companies.

Motsko's attorney Joseph Moore brought the issue before the town's Planning & Zoning Commission late Wednesday. They agreed to send the ordinance back to the town planning staffers, who will re-evaluate the exact working needed to move forward with the project.

"I think everybody pretty well realizes that the properties along the bay will most probably be... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

OCEAN CITY -- Ocean City put a law on their books allowing residential wind turbines specifically because Jim Motsko came to them asking for one. Now, an unforeseen snag has thrown up a new hurdle in his two-year quest.

Here's the technicality: Any pole-mounted windmills must be set back from abutting property lines at a distance of 1.1 times the height of the turbine. For example, a 10-foot pole needs to be 11 feet from the neighbor's fence. The law also says those setbacks can be waived if the neighbor grants an easement.

But what happens if the neighbor isn't another homeowner, but is the state of Maryland? That's the scenario Motsko faces, because his Sixth Street home is adjacent to the Isle of Wight Bay, wetlands controlled by the state Department of the Environment. And MDE won't grant easements for anyone but utility companies.

Motsko's attorney Joseph Moore brought the issue before the town's Planning & Zoning Commission late Wednesday. They agreed to send the ordinance back to the town planning staffers, who will re-evaluate the exact working needed to move forward with the project.

"I think everybody pretty well realizes that the properties along the bay will most probably be those which would have the most benefits of a wind turbine," Moore said, "and when I look at the proposed ordinance, it does not relate to any determination with respect to the waters of the bay."

Without a fix, "it goes without saying that you're going to have an ordinance that's unworkable," he added.

Motsko said it's just another roadblock in a saga that started more than two years ago. He has plans to install a 39-foot tall pole-mounted wind turbine in his backyard. If approved and built, it would be the first-ever residential electricity-generated turbine for the resort since the town passed a law in 2009 allowed residential wind power.

"I guess we have to overcome this hurdle before we get to the next hurdle. It's crazy," Motsko said. "I feel like we're making some kind of progress. At least the planning and zoning committee gave us the opportunity to overcome this Catch-22. It's a shame we gotta go back and address it all over again. I just hope it doesn't get to a point where it drags on and on and on."

Blaine Smith, Ocean City's head of zoning, said it's not that MDE has a problem with the turbine. It's just that the state won't grant an easement "because it's not something they would normally do," he said. He said his office will consider changes to the law that would distinguish bayside property from upland parcels.

Text changes very nearly bring the process back to the drawing board. An amended law would return to the Town Council for approval, then go back to the Planning & Zoning Commission for another public hearing, and again back to the council for final approval.

Motsko said his year-round neighbors are supportive, with some sending letters of support to the town, and are encouraging him to stay at it. Two men who own summer properties in the four-unit apartment building adjacent to Motsko's home have voiced discontent over noise and views.

Smith reminded the planning board that despite anyone's concerns over ruined bayfront views, anyone may erect a 50-foot tall residential building within 10 feet of the bulkhead, according to the building code.


Source: http://www.delmarvanow.com/...

NOV 4 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/28696-wind-turbine-hope-hits-mde-policy-hurdle
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