The heat is intensifying to stop wind turbines from being built on state forestlands in Garrett County, with the Garrett County commissioners voting this week to oppose the proposal, and the Garrett County Planning Commission agreeing yesterday to recommend imposition of a moratorium on the placement of wind turbines in the county anywhere, on private and public lands.
However, the commissioners responded that, under current county regulations, any such moratorium would have to be on all building construction in the county, not just on construction pertaining to wind turbines.
The planning commission also recommended additional legislation to address the situation; however, this would have to be done by today in order to meet the General Assembly deadline for local emergency legislation. The commissioners state, and probably rightly so, that much more time will be needed to consider such a complicated matter prior to drafting legislation.
County-wide zoning authority, in some form, is what is being suggested, something that every other county in the state already has; something that this column has called for on a number of occasions. Certainly preparing legislation for any form of county-wide zoning would necessitate extensive research and therefore a lot of time, a dimension that is not plentiful in the case of wind turbines.
It seems, however, that a change in the county’s building code limiting the height of structures would be a much simpler, and obviously much quicker, way to go. The county does have a building code, one that is relatively strict. Adding a height-restriction ordinance to an already established code would directly address the concern about wind turbines without creating a blanket regulation that might adversely affect other forms of desirable construction.
7 February 2008
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