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Opposition group files PIA over proposed wind farm
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
CHESTERTOWN, Md. (April 7, 2015) — A Public Information Act request has been filed with the Kent County Commission seeking disclosure of information about a proposed wind turbine farm that would cover an estimated 5,000 acres of prime county farm land.
The action was taken last week by the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association in opposition to the highly controversial Apex Energy Wind Turbine project which would erect dozens of 500-foot wind turbines in farmland between Kennedyville and Galena.
QACA Executive Director Jay Falstad stated: “In filing our PIA request, we are taking a first step to join with Washington College, the citizens of Keep Kent Scenic, and the Kent County Commissioners themselves in their unanimous opposition to this almost unbelievable project.”
Falstad said that “the proposed field of turbines, with their 164-foot blades atop 333-foot pylons, will put multiple skyscraper-tall structures into the undeveloped lands of the Eastern Shore, thereby despoiling a historic landscape, creating a wall of destruction for migrating birds, and impinging on the skyscapes of Queen Anne’s and other neighboring counties. We cannot let this happen,”
Falstad attended a meeting on March 21, organized by Keep Kent Scenic and learned that the project, because it was subject to permitting by the Maryland Public Service Commission, apparently did not need to conform to the Kent County Comprehensive Plan and zoning laws that protect farmland from heavy industrial development.
During the past week, Falstad was able to secure a copy of the 26-page APEX Land Lease and Wind Easement agreement that a handful of landowners have already entered into.
“This lease is about as one-sided as I’ve ever seen,” said Falstad. “Essentially, the landowner is handing over control of his property to APEX — or whoever APEX ultimately sells its rights to.
“Take the provision [1.2(c)], for example,” Falsyad continued, “where the landowner grants APEX an easement to ‘generate electromagnetic, audio, flicker, visual, view, light, noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, electrical, radio interference, shadow or other effects attributable to the facilities or any other operational or development activities.’
That says that if you find your property has become a place where human beings can no longer live safely and comfortably, and therefore isn’t saleable, don’t complain to us, you agreed to it.”
In a statement, Falstad continued: “Same thing with farming the property: Once the turbines are up, the lease says that APEX ‘shall not be responsible to pay Owner any losses of income, rent, business opportunities, profits or other losses arising out of Owner’s inability to grow crops or otherwise use the portion of the Property occupied by Wind Facilities pursuant to this lease’ (Sec. 6.2).
“This environmentally destructive project,” Falstad continued, “has nothing to do with good alternative forms of electric power generation, like solar, but instead is a reckless grab for federal subsidies for a thoroughly bad project in a totally inappropriate place. And because the APEX lease is so invasive to the landowner’s property rights, getting people to sign these leases amounts to federally subsidized takings of farmland.”
Falstad recalled another effort, this one by the federal government, to grab and develop Eastern Shore farmland.
“Like the massive federal anti-terrorism training facility proposed for Ruthsburg in Queen Anne’s County a few years ago,” Falstand said, “this project would destabilize and devalue rural land in the whole Mid-Shore region.
“We fought that one off, and now we are gearing up to stand with the leaders and citizens of Kent County in fighting this project with everything we have.”