CUMBERLAND — The battle over a proposed wind farm on Dan's Mountain continues now that Allegany County and a citizens' organization have filed petitions with the state Public Service Commission to fight an attempt by wind project developers to circumvent a local zoning decision by going directly to the PSC.
The county and Allegany Neighbors & Citizens for Home Owners Rights filed petitions asking that the state body formally admit them into the case.
Darlene Park, the president of the citizen's organization, said a judge denied a request by the developers to throw the citizen's organization out of the proceedings at a Thursday hearing, although this could not be independently confirmed. No orders from the March 3 hearing on the case are currently available on the PSC website. The citizen's organization will be required to hire an attorney to represent them in further proceedings however, Park said. The organization is now looking to raise funds to hire that attorney, Park said.
Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC has filed for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with the Maryland Public Service Commission, which, if approved, would allow the company to construct a 17-turbine wind farm on Dan’s Mountain.
“Dans Mountain is filing this application for a CPCN from the commission specifically because a CPCN would pre-empt local Allegany County land use ordinances, which would otherwise prohibit not only this project, but any similar renewable wind energy project proposed in Allegany County,” said the company in its application to the PSC.
Dan's Mountain Wind Force asked the local board to allow a variance to the separation distance for eight residents and a variance for setback requirements at two locations. County code requires that wind turbines have a minimum separation distance of 2,000 feet from any residential structure and a 955 feet setback from the property line.
In December, the Allegany County Board of Zoning appeals denied an application for variances and a special exception for the project.
The county filed its petition to intervene with the PSC on Feb. 26.
"Allegany County objects to the applicant's request for 'an explicit instruction that Allegany County's land use ordinance does not apply to this project,'" according to the motion filed by Michael Forlini, of the Baltimore law firm Funk & Bolton, which is representing the county along with county attorney Bill Rudd. While no specific costs are cited, the county filing notes that significant public resources and personnel time have been used in both the local hearings and now those at the state level.
Dan's Mountain Wind Force has already invested more than $5 million in the project.