Wind farm proposal passes one more hurdle
By NANCY L. SMITH
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (Nov. 4, 2014) — Wind power turbines up to 575 feet tall would be permitted in Somerset County under a draft ordinance approved by the county planning commission.
But a proposed wind power project in the county is not a reality just yet.
The proposed ordinance is a recommendation; the county commission must review the language and can change it in any way, said Gary R. Pusey, county director of Planning and Zoning. Pusey expects to deliver the ordinance to the county commission within a few weeks.
County Administrator Doug Taylor explained the county commission will review the ordinance and schedule a public hearing, perhaps as early as December.
He emphasized county commissioners are not bound by the planning commission’s decision and can change it as they see fit. Likewise, the commission is not bound by any comments it receives.
The provisions of the ordinance would apply to structures built for any purpose. It is of immediate concern to local residents because of a proposed project, by Pioneer Green Energy, an Austin, Texas-based developer of utility-scale renewable energy projects, which would construct 25 to 50 commercial wind turbines that would tower over the flat and overwhelmingly rural county.
The project has sparked strong opposition from some residents who have warned of noise, sight pollution and disaster due to the turbines.
A Pioneer Green spokesman denied the disastrous predictions, saying the project would provide many benefits including revenue for area farmers who would be paid for rights-of-way and construction sites on their land.