Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Maryland
Garrett County finally has a new comprehensive plan that will serve as a policy for decisions made by the county's government. ...While the county commissioners did approve a final plan, it was without the protection of ridge tops as sensitive areas. This had been an issue of contention for the commissioners when they discussed their opinions on the draft plan at the September planning commission meeting. Their concerns were the lack of specification as to the definition of a ridge top or what kind of development would be prevented.
Exasperated by rising energy costs, this summer Money Lewis decided it was time to take advantage of the strong breeze that blows across his Selsey Road property. In July, he signed a $15,000 contract with a Delaware company to set up a 33-foot wind turbine on his .7-acre waterfront property. ...However, he's heard he will have to wait until the county creates an ordinance to dictate the placement of the turbine.
County resident Sam White alerted the county to another possible conflict of interest Davis might have in regard to the ongoing discussions of wind turbines and the proposed zoning text amendments. White also raised the allegation against Bill Duvall, commission chairman. ...The Frostburg resident [David] has owned about a half-acre of land with a trailer for nearly 30 years. The property is adjacent to the current planned wind turbine project atop Dan's Mountain. In addition, Davis' employer has listings in the nearby Harwood subdivision.
"We don't matter." Two Allegany County residents told members of the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday that certainly seemed to be the case. They spoke of the planned 25-unit wind turbine project atop Dan's Mountain by Dan's Mountain Wind Force LLC, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based U.S. Wind Force LLC.
An Allegany County resident's allegations that one or more of the Planning and Zoning Commission members could have a conflict of interest by discussing and voting on wind turbine-related issues gained the attention of the all-volunteer board. It didn't, however, help facilitate further discussion. The commission Wednesday voted 4-0 to table further discussion until at least the next meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Oct. 6. Members Rodger Uphold, Charles Norris and George Stimmel were not present at the meeting.
[A] state delegate and energy company are teaming up in an attempt to bring the future of energy generation to the former Naval Radio Transmitter Facility. Del. Ron George, R-Arnold, and Alpha Energy, which is based in Annapolis, are preparing a $30- to $40-million proposal for six to 10 wind turbines near the existing radio towers. Mr. George and David Murrin and Marcellous Butler of Alpha Energy held a meeting on Monday with government, energy and business officials to start a dialogue with the community.
John Bambacus thinks now is the time to have wind turbine regulations in place in Allegany County "rather than react after the fact." County Planning Commission member Bill Davis, however, sees no point in modifying the admittedly loose industrial wind turbine regulations currently on the books. Discussion around the two opposite positions could make some headway on Monday at the commission's work session at 3 p.m. at the County Office Complex. The county is in the process of modifying its definitions and considering other modifications to the zoning code regarding industrial wind energy conversion systems and wind turbines for residential and agricultural uses.
Despite the national and global focus on energy sources and costs, Worcester County might not pursue an ordinance allowing small wind turbines in rural areas until at least next year. ...Commissioner Bobby Cowger felt there was no rush to draft an ordinance, saying it could wait until the comprehensive rezoning is complete. Wind power guidelines could be started in the winter and then be finished sometime next summer.
It was a good beginning. But there is still a very long way to go. That was the consensus among Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission members and members of the public who testified Wednesday on the proposed modifications to the zoning code regarding industrial wind energy conversion systems and wind turbines for residential and agricultural uses. The discussion had been initiated in March by Frostburg resident John Bambacus, who has consistently expressed frustration with Garrett County officials for their lack of countywide zoning and virtually no protection from what wind turbine critics argue are the many pitfalls of living near the tall towers.
Cresaptown resident David Athey, a retired college library worker and a Vietnam veteran, said on Tuesday that he and his brother, Charles Athey, of Potomac, Md., feel the project wasn't "explained very well when it came up as an issue." They have five points they'd like county officials and wind energy proponents alike to consider. None of the issues, however, are any that have not been discussed in public forums in wind energy discussions in Allegany and Garrett counties in recent years.
A Maryland company and another in New Jersey hope to build wind farms at opposite ends of Maryland.
County Planning Coordinator Phil Hager said Tuesday the item was removed from the agenda "at my recommendation" to give county staff time to review the proposal. "The end goal we're trying to achieve could be better achieved by having it placed in the development standards section of the zoning code (rather) than in the text portion," Hager said. "All other standards for all other zoning classifications and all other uses are included in that section. It doesn't make sense to treat one use differently."
Several Phoenix residents are appealing a decision by the Baltimore County zoning board that would allow a couple to build a 120-foot windmill on their property. Neighbors say the windmill that Barry and Urszuela Antonelli hope to construct on their 97-acre property on Cooper Road would be an eyesore and would decrease their property values. "It's the equivalent of having a 12-story structure in your backyard," said John Reistrup, a marketing executive and one of the neighbors who is filing the appeal. "We bought our house specifically for the view."
Frostburg resident John Bambacus wrote Delegate Wendell Beitzel in February, asking him to sponsor the repeal of a law passed in 2007 that exempts industrial wind farms from public scrutiny. He asked again this week in light of Gov. Martin O'Malley's apparent willingness to consider being a part of an industrial wind energy facility off the shores of Ocean City. This time, the former state senator received the answer he wanted. ...Right now, "land-based wind turbines are on a fast-track (approval process). They get no environmental, health or safety review" from the Maryland Public Service Commission, the Department of the Environment or other agencies, much less the general public.
The ruling released Friday grants the Antonelli family approval to build a 120-foot windmill in its yard, a special exception to a county law that caps poles on residential property at 15 feet. In his opinion, Deputy Zoning Commissioner Tom Bostwick said the windmill will keep seven tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and provide a "working example of utilizing alternative energy sources." ..."We were surprised he approved it without any independent study on how it's going to impact the surrounding community," said Lisa Viscuso. "We're disappointed."
The Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission was able to see proposed setbacks and buffers of wind turbines from schools, homes and other buildings Wednesday night. The public, however, was not. Phil Hager, county planner coordinator and executive director of the commission, called it "an internal document ... of my own creation," said it was "handed" to commission members - versus being presented to them during a public meeting - and after the meeting declined to give a copy to the Times-News. The document includes "performance-based" ideas for changes to the county zoning code. The intent, Hager told the commission, was to make the requirements tied to the level of impact a project would have "so we're not using a sledge hammer to kill an ant."
What is the difference between a residential and industrial wind energy turbine? That's up for discussion before the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission today at the County Office Complex. The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m., takes place on the lower floor in the county commissioners' chambers. Phil Hager, county planning coordinator, said at the commission's July 7 work session that there is little in the county ordinances to guide industrial or residential permits. His research showed other jurisdictions required setbacks, buffer zones and height limits, along with a public hearing process for both types of turbines.
The Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday authorized county staff to draft definitions and discuss the differences between industrial and residential wind turbines. ...The commission authorized staff to develop draft language for industrial or commercial wind energy systems. The board also directed staff to distinguish residential turbines and suggest maximum height requirements - likely 30 feet - and minimum buffer zones, possibly between 1.5 and 2.5 times the height of a turbine as measured from bottom to the top of the tallest propeller.
Under the amendment, a new Article 12 would be added to the watershed ordinance that would define and prohibit commercial wind turbine structures. It would also define the territorial jurisdiction of the new article to include all lands in Garrett County except incorporated municipalities, explained John Nelson, director of the Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Development. ..."I think sometimes your freedom as a property owner is going to infringe on my freedom as a property owner," said New Germany area resident Kathy Tunney. She said she and others ought to have the right to weigh in on the issue of wind turbines being built near their properties. "We want the right to say something about what our freedoms and rights are," Tunney said.
I was at the Garrett County commissioners' June 24 public hearing on performance zoning, which can be used to prohibit industrial wind turbines on county ridgelines. Over two dozen residents spoke, many with raw emotion and obvious frustration over the lack of safeguards against this industry. Coming up with a way of regulating this now effectively unregulated industry should be a high priority with our elected officials. However, I am concerned that no one seems to be looking out for the property rights, health, and safety of those having to live or work next to such developments. ...Performance zoning would safeguard our basic human rights, our property, and our county's natural heritage from these intrusive, landscape-altering wind developments.