When Allegany County planners begin studying how the county should regulate wind turbines, there should be plenty of examples of how best to proceed.
Communities in many parts of the nation have been grappling with windmill issues and how to balance environmental and aesthetic concerns with energy needs.
No better example can be found than in Garrett County, where there has been a huge outcry against placing windmills on state forests lands. Governor Martin O’Malley finally vetoed the idea of having the turbines on state-owned ridges.
At a work session Monday, the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission heard reasons why county staff should pursue defining what is and is not permitted in the county for both industrial and residential wind turbine uses.
The county already has three wind turbines in use. One is at Frostburg State University for research purposes, another at a private residence in Frostburg, and a third at a home in unincorporated Allegany County.
Already, county planning commission members are raising important issues. Commission Chairman Bill Duvall said he believes contractors should be bonded for the removal and cleanup of windmill sites. Ted Robinette said the study should also include other structures such as cell phone towers. And Bill Davis noted that Dan’s Mountain already has about two dozen cell phone towers, although it is unclear whether all are operational.
Wind power can be an important part of the energy mix of a community. But the county needs to proceed carefully, with residential and environmental protection a No. 1 priority.
Cumberland Times-News Editorial
4 June 2008
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