CRESAPTOWN -- A proposed 17-turbine wind farm project proposed near the ridgeline of Dan's Mountain will not affect the view over Dan's Rock, according to David Friend, managing partner, Laurel Renewable Partners LLC.
Friend spoke Tuesday on the opening day of public hearings conducted on the project by the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals at the county fairgrounds.
Access to Dan's Rock also will not be affected because it is accessible by old Dan's Rock Road, according to Friend. There is a gate proposed on the emergency exit road from the southern end of the project.
Opponents of the project have previously said they are concerned about the viewshed, noise, electromagnetic interference and other issues.
"This project will create an eyesore where the big business of tourism is a major economic driver," writes Champ Zumbrun of LaVale in a Letter to the Editor that appeared Tuesday in the Times-News. "Eight percent of the 38 million people who visit our state chose Western Maryland to enjoy its ancient mountains and diverse forested landscape."
Dans Mountain Wind Force plans to construct the project on tracts of property near the top of Dan's Mountain.
The county required that the landowner sign off on lease that covers the lifetime of the project, including the decommissioning of it, according to Friend. The county's setback requirements from a residence is 2,000 feet and eight landowners signed off on a waiver that stated they were fine with a lesser setback, said Friend.
The project has adhered to the county's home rule requirements, submitted Electromagnetic Interference Analysis and conducted bird studies,according to Friend.
"I'd like to ask you all to give us a fair shot," said Friend to the board of zoning appeals. "We have done everything you have asked and actually more, perhaps..."
Dans Mountain Wind Force has already invested more than $5 million in the $110 million project, according to Friend. The project will generate approximately more than $1 million in the first year of operation.
"I'm kind of amazed at the investment in the project," said William Powell, member of the board of zoning appeals.
Four consultants worked on the electromagnetic interference analysis, which made sure that the wind turbine wouldn't be interfering with any of the microwave beams from the 18 radio towers on Dan's Mountain, according to Friend. The EIA was more complex due to the number of towers.
Dans Mountain Wind Force has also been able to satisfy accommodate the emergency systems that utilize the towers. No one in the state or federal jurisdiction has had any objects to the EIA, according to Friend.
One of the world's experts on aviation issues associated with wind farms has looked at the project and about five studies of been conducted on bats and the woodrat, which also was discovered in the area, Friend said.
Dan's Mountain hopes to begin the project in February with completion scheduled at the end of 2016, according to Friend.
The project has been in the works since 2001. In 2008-2009 a 25-turbine farm was proposed but the rules required a lot of changes so the project was reduced to 17 to meet the requirements of the county, according to Friend.