Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Maryland
Gov. Martin O'Malley has scheduled a trip to western Maryland to announce whether his administration will allow wind turbines on state forest land. ...The planned announcement will cap four months of heated debate over a company's proposal to lease and clear hundreds of acres in the western mountains to erect about 100 turbines for electricity generation.
A month has passed since the end of the comment period on development of a policy for wind turbines on state land, and according to Maryland Department of Natural Resources, no decision has yet been made. A spokeswoman for DNR said the agency hopes to have an event mid-April once a decision has been made on the department's stance on turbines located on state land.
Allegany County government planning staff were directed Wednesday to review ordinances currently in place that might allow or restrict the development of wind turbine farms. Phil Hager, county planner, said "it might be prudent" for staff to review what current regulations do and do not allow. County officials have remained out of the public spotlight in recent years as the potential for wind energy conversion turbines have focused on land in Garrett County. Allegany County last addressed the issue in 2002, Hager said. ...Hager said Wednesday the review would be an effort to "stay ahead of the curve" of the inevitable dialogue bound to take place.
Some residents looking to embrace alternative energy sources have found that Carroll County's zoning laws are still catching up. But things could be changing. A zoning amendment regulating the installation of small windmills or wind turbines will go to public workshop and public hearing after the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with the process Thursday.
We are not quibbling about the right of a person "to make a little money on his ridge top if he chooses to." We have serious concerns that the installation of 450-foot wind turbines along the scenic ridges of Garrett County will disrupt our economy and ecology in an irreversible manner. We need for our commissioners to take a stand and protect our county from the wind industry.
Once again, the PSC hearing officer and staff, along with about 100 citizens did not have a clue as to what the county’s position is on placing these wind turbines on county public land near the towns of Mt. Lake Park and Loch Lynn Heights. Citizens raised concerns about water quality and supply issues due to blasting, public safety and health issues, and environmental degradation. A reasonable person must wonder why their elected officials hide under their desks and are unable to do what they were elected to do — represent the people. Serious questions from citizens remain unanswered.
Since Criterion's filing with the PSC on Jan. 23, there have been at least three different versions of the application circulated by the PSC for public review. ...No document has ever been posted by the PSC showing the location of Criterion's 28 industrial wind turbines. The PSC's own instructions for these applications state, "Every effort will be made to process and approve your application expeditiously. The Commission will not, however, consider incomplete applications. The single largest cause of delay in processing applications is due to incompleteness". For some reason, the PSC is ignoring its own requirements and processing an application that any reasonable person would find incomplete.
With more than 50 people in attendance, Garrett County residents were given the opportunity Thursday to voice their opinions on the proposed Clipper Windpower project on Backbone Mountain and a possible exemption from the traditional Public Service Commission review processes. ...Originally proposed in 2002 as a 100 megawatt project with 47 turbines, Clipper has downsized that request to 70 megawatts and 28 turbines. The project is seeking an exemption from the review process through legislation passed last year.
When the Maryland Public Service Commission comes to Garrett County on Thursday evening, local residents are hoping that the county commissioners will request that the state not give Clipper Windpower an exemption on the commission's review process. ...Stanton said that he has concerns that the new opportunity for companies to avoid the PSC review process would not account for industrial wind turbines. He said that this is the first wind development to attempt to avoid the traditional PSC processes through the legislation passed last year. In a letter he also gave to the commissioners, he said, "Garrett County cannot rely on an untried exemption process to protect our interests."
Olivia Campbell, media relations manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said, "it's ended and we're going to start reviewing the comments. I would expect a decision shortly. It's not going to be delayed, drawn out." Campbell said that when it comes to the question of whether the turbines should be placed on state forest land, the comments were nearly 80 percent opposed to the idea. She said those comments came from across the state and there were hundreds of comments made between the online comment area and the two public hearings at Garrett College and in Annapolis at the end of January. Frank Maisano, a spokesman for wind developers, said he feels there is still a silent majority of Garrett County residents in favor of wind power.
State utility regulators extended the public comment period on a proposed Garrett County wind power project that could bypass a lengthy regulatory approval process, an official said Wednesday. The Public Service Commission tacked on 30 days for comments following last Thursday's public hearing in McHenry, said LaWanda Edwards, PSC spokeswoman. "We felt that customers asked for it, and you know from our perspective we like to get as much input from the community as possible," she said. Last month, the Garrett County Commissioners requested that the PSC include a 30-day comment period as concerned citizens voiced their desire for a larger window of time.
With little notice, the Maryland Public Service Commission has scheduled a hearing on a proposal by Criterion Power Partners, LLC, formerly known as Clipper Windpower, to downsize a Garrett County wind power project ...This expedited hearing is an attempt to bypass the PSC's long-established environmental and public review process involving a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for construction of electricity generators. ...State law and regulations were all but tossed-out with the passage of Senate Bill 566, and the environmental, health, and safety protections to protect our citizens scuttled as the then-chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and wind power developer Wayne Rogers, the top leadership of the Senate, House, and governor's office, along with the massive assistance and persuasion of former speaker, and now-turned wind lobbyist, Casper R. Taylor, Jr.
With yet another state meeting to be held in Garrett County concerning wind power projects, local citizens voiced their concerns not only about the turbines but the comment period for the Public Service Commission. "The application online (for the Clipper Windpower project) is unusable," Barbara Boone said. "Many people will not know (about the project) until the PSC meeting. Send a letter to the PSC to keep the comment period open for 30 days after the meeting."
The hot topic of proposed wind turbines, especially the notion of placing them on state forestland, has generated more negative response from more organizations and individuals in the county than any other issue in recent history. The commissioners heard, and they acted. Zoning is the best long-term solution to regulating, and/or preventing, the installation of wind turbines in our county, so it seems that all of these same groups and individuals should just as loudly advocate its implementation.
The state Public Service Commission has scheduled a hearing March 6th in McHenry on the proposed downsizing of a Garrett County wind power project. The change would shrink the project originally proposed by California-based Clipper Windpower from 40 turbines with a maximum output of 101 megawatts to 28 turbines generating up to 70 megawatts.
Department of Natural Resources officials announced that industrial wind development seemed appropriate for state land in Garrett County because so much private land will soon be planted with massive wind turbines. Given last year's legislative wind deregulation bill, so rife with cronyism, they're right. Now all a limited liability wind corporation need do to set up shop in Western Maryland is apply to the Public Service Commission, negotiate in secret with the grid for transmission line access, and get the PSC to hold a public hearing in the area. Even if 500 residents came to the hearing to oppose the project, with only a few approving, this outpouring would have no outcome on the permit.
The state Public Service Commission has scheduled a public hearing March 6 in McHenry on the proposed downsizing of a Garrett County wind-power project. ...John Bambacus, a former Republican state senator from Frostburg, also objected to the filing in an e-mail Monday to PSC Chairman Steven B. Larsen. Unless the agency assigns it a new case number, Bambacus wrote, "the PSC will be engaging in a deceptive arrangement with this limited liability developer while also precluding the possibility of new interveners in this case, which would materially affect any decision made about it."
The only way to restrict the height of structures in Garrett County would be through zoning, Planning and Land Development director John Nelson told the county commissioners this week. Some residents have suggested that local officials could regulate the construction of wind turbines through height restrictions in the county's building ordinance. The commissioners met with Nelson on Tuesday to review the issue further.
It had been suggested at a planning meeting last week that the commissioners approve a moratorium on development of wind turbines and that they pursue legislation to allow the county to have some form of authority over future projects. That suggestion was deemed impossible by the commissioners after consulting with the county attorney. They said that a moratorium would require a halt on all building projects in the county and that without some form of zoning, no legislation would have any authority behind it. The commissioners said they would be open to putting zoning up for a referendum, but only if there is a definite showing of support for the action. This would allow the zoning to be grouped by district as the Sunday alcohol sales have been.
Questions brought up over wording in the comprehensive plan have led to a decision by the Garrett County Planning Commission to recommend legislation and a moratorium on wind power in the county. The decision for the board to make the suggestion to the county comissioners was made Wednesday in a 6-2 vote, with an additional unanimous vote to remove the wording of county support for wind power from the comprehensive plan draft. "I've listened to arguments about parking places and signage," John Bombacus, a local resident, said. "These things are going to be 400 feet tall." Some of those in attendance were worried that by letting regulations go through their traditional processes, it might be too late to effect new, smaller projects from getting approval at a state level.