OAKLAND – The Garrett County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing today at 10:30 a.m. on the issue of performance zoning in Garrett County as a way to prevent wind turbine development.
“The purpose of the meeting or hearing is to receive public comments on a proposal submitted by Barbara Boone and Nancy Nimmich to establish performance zoning throughout all of Garrett County,” Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator, said. “Specifically, their proposal would add a new article entitled ‘performance zoning’ to the (Deep Creek Lake Watershed Ordinance) that would define and prohibit commercial wind turbine structures.”
This issue was brought to the Garrett County Planning Commission on March 31, according to the original letter. As a part of the Deep Creek Lake Watershed Zoning Ordinance, the proposed performance zoning would be applied not only to the Deep Creek area but to ridge tops throughout the county.
When the proposal was presented to the Planning Commission in April, the commission said they did not feel they could support performance zoning, based on the opinion of County Attorney Mike Getty.
Getty’s opinion was that applying zoning to commercial to areas not covered under the existing ordinance would be illegal. In a letter to the county commissioners, Getty said he feels they have the right to use performance zoning in areas within the existing district.
At the April meeting, William Wantz, an attorney from Hagerstown, presented to the Planning Commission an idea to use performance zoning as an amendment to the Deep Creek Lake Watershed area as well as the rest of the county, as it would focus on the impact of a project and not regulating and permitting specific property uses.
Denny Glotfelty, County Commission chairman, said despite their county attorney’s opinion, they were still holding the public hearing in order for those who signed the petition in favor of performance zoning to be heard.
“They’re presenting this to us,” Glotfelty said, “and we have to listen publicly.”
Pagenhardt said it was the commissioners’ decision to have the public hearing in order to let the people voice their opinion. However, he added that the intent of the meeting would be to receive public comment, not for the commissioners or Getty to answer questions.
By Sarah Moses
24 June 2008
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