Though there are claims that representatives of Clipper Windpower could not recall Garrett County trying to get out of a lease between the company and the Garrett County Sanitary District, documents show that the county did make such attempts, Mike Getty, county attorney, said.
“We did exactly what the memo (from 2005) said. We looked for the best way possible to remove the county from housing a windpower facility…” Getty said. “We were contacted by (Clipper’s attorney) that they weren’t interested.”
Documents from April 2005, between county officials show discussions of the possibility of withdrawing from the agreement that the Garrett County Sanitary District made while it was still a private entity. A memo from Getty’s files said he contacted Clipper Windpower’s legal representation on the matter.
The question of what is now Garrett County property being leased out to the wind company has brought up other concerns as to when exactly the commissioners were aware of the lease agreement and why it was not made more public.
Monty Pagenhardt said that Jim Hinebaugh, director of economic development, had sent an e-mail to him in December 2002, that said Clipper had approached the sanitary district about placing turbines on their property. In that e-mail, it says the sanitary district would not accept the proposal because of possible effects to the water source for Loch Lynn and Mountain Lake Park.
Hinebaugh said that he had worked with Clipper as they were a prospective company interested in the county at the time, but had not been made aware of the company actually signing a lease agreement with the sanitary district. He said he couldn’t recall having followed up with either the company or the sanitary district to see if the lease had been signed.
Pagenhardt said that when the county took over the authority of the Garrett County Sanitary District in April 2003, the county was unaware the lease agreement had been signed between the two and it wasn’t until April 2005, when Clipper approached the county about paperwork, that he became aware of it.
Commission Chairman Denny Glotfelty had been a member of the sanitary district at the time and said that as a private entity, they did not have to inform the commissioners of that decision.
“We weren’t bound to the county government at all,” Glotfelty said. “We represented our customers. We were doing what our customers asked us to do. There was no reason to report it at that time. At that time it was on private property.”
Getty said that until 2005, there was no indication that anyone at the county level knew of the agreement.
As for the question of why this wasn’t made public after the commissioners discovered the lease, Pagenhardt explained that much of what the county does is available for public review. While there were parts of this situation that were considered attorney-client privilege or confidential, it was mentioned in the minutes of public meetings.
“Everything we do is public,” Pagenhardt said. “Everything we do is open for public review. How do you determine what you should have told at a public meeting?”
Getty said that those who were involved or who asked for the information were aware of the situation.
“We weren’t hiding anything,” Getty said.
By Sarah Moses
4 March 2008
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