My wife and I have been residents of Garrett County for five years and were frequent visitors to, and avid fans of, Garrett County for 12 years before moving here for our retirement. Of the many attractions the county has to offer, the environmental quality and scenic beauty top the list. We are writing to ask you to oppose the current proposal to install wind turbines on public lands, a proposal which we believe will permanently degrade the very qualities which attracted us and many others to Garrett County in the first place.
Whatever one’s views may be on private property rights, public lands should be preserved for public use and enjoyment. And whatever one’s views may be regarding the costs and benefits of wind turbines gererally (and any technology that requires continuing tax subsidies has to be suspect), the net benefits are marginal, at best. We believe that these marginal benefits would be more than offset by the permanent damage that the proposed turbines would bring to our public lands. Compared to the temporary changes brought about by logging or gypsy moth infestation, the changes brought by wind turbines would be more severe and much more lasting.
Economically, the revenues to Maryland from leases on state land could be more than offset by decreased sales tax revenues from a decline in tourism and decreased property tax revenues from lower property values. As you know, these values can be affected by subjective as well as objective factors, but the practical impact on the market can be very real. Is anyone seriously arguing that prospective buyers will find nearby land to be more valuable because of the presence of massive wind towers?
But the more fundamental concern for us is the potential loss of Garrett County’s character. We have heard Garrett County referred to as “Maryland’s Wild, Wild West.” Do any of us want that perception to change to the “Land of Giant Wind Turbines”? We believe that this will be the inevitable consequence of permitting these structures to march across our highest ridges virtually from the Pennsylvania line in the north to the West Virginia border in the southeast.
Bob and Marg Lewis
3 January 2008
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