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Zoning is the Answer...

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.

It turns out that our suggestion in this column a few weeks ago to amend the county building code to limit the height of all construction in the county (specifically wind turbines) was not really a viable option. The building code addresses only those requirements that have to do with structural integrity; that is, the code guarantees that buildings, from the footers to the roof, are constructed in a safe and sound manner, according to a variety of recognized standards. The code does not include anything that regulates non-safety related things, such as height restrictions.

So this brings us back to the idea of zoning, an authority that is already granted by the state of Maryland to the counties, an authority that to date Garrett County leadership has elected not to utilize, except at Deep Creek Lake. Some of our larger municipalities also employ zoning within their borders.

Those categorically opposed to zoning ride on the claim that private property is just that - private - and that the owner has the right to do whatever he wants with his property. At face value, this seems right, and that any form of "tampering" with someone's private property is a violation of the owner's rights. However,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

It turns out that our suggestion in this column a few weeks ago to amend the county building code to limit the height of all construction in the county (specifically wind turbines) was not really a viable option. The building code addresses only those requirements that have to do with structural integrity; that is, the code guarantees that buildings, from the footers to the roof, are constructed in a safe and sound manner, according to a variety of recognized standards. The code does not include anything that regulates non-safety related things, such as height restrictions.

So this brings us back to the idea of zoning, an authority that is already granted by the state of Maryland to the counties, an authority that to date Garrett County leadership has elected not to utilize, except at Deep Creek Lake. Some of our larger municipalities also employ zoning within their borders.

Those categorically opposed to zoning ride on the claim that private property is just that - private - and that the owner has the right to do whatever he wants with his property. At face value, this seems right, and that any form of "tampering" with someone's private property is a violation of the owner's rights. However, the situation changes when what one decides to do with his own property has negative effects on his neighbors, such as the person who elects to use his front yard as a garbage dump, or to house a tavern, or to take up swine farming. Any one of these choices will take a negative toll on a neighbor in any number of ways, including decreased property values and unsightliness, to name a few.

One's individual rights do not include negatively impacting the rights of others. That's precisely why zoning was "invented." Zoning can be flexible; it does not have to be overly restrictive to the point that it is unfair and oppressive. It can be designed so that it guards property owners against specific uses of adjacent properties.

Implementation of zoning in Garrett County could be accomplished in steps. There are 12 identified watersheds in the county which encompass the entire county. As noted above, zoning already exists in the Deep Creek Lake watershed. It could be implemented in additional watersheds where deemed most necessary, rather than zoning the entire county in one fell swoop.
In general, zoning works well at the lake, and it works well in Oakland, Mtn. Lake Park, and the other towns that have it. However, without a clear demonstration of public support for zoning, the county commissioners probably will not act in this direction.

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.


Source: http://www.therepublicannew...

FEB 21 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/13451-zoning-is-the-answer
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