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Frostburg council approves EverPower line easement

FROSTBURG – After nearly a year of detailed negotiations, Frostburg City Council voted with three in favor and one abstention for an easement agreement with Big Savage LLC/EverPower for an underground generator lead line that will run through city streets, parks and city-owned property.

Mayor Robert Flanigan abstained from voting because of a conflict of interest. His private business is also one of the landowners, explained City Administrator John Kirby.

Instead, the gavel was passed to Commissioner of Water, Parks and Recreation Brian Alderton to chair the resolution and motion to approve. 

Commissioner of Public Works Dennis Bridges was absent from the meeting.

The agreement consists of 80 pages of text, attachments and drawings, according to Kirby.

“We have had a few adjustments to the language. The documents are, in fact, ready to be signed by the city attorney’s office,” said Kirby.

The agreement was negotiated on behalf of the city by Kirby, city attorney Michael Scott Cohen and others. The city has no regulatory authority regarding the power transmission line or the project in general, but only the authority to negotiate an easement.

At the heart of the negotiations was the city’s determination to protect the city streets, utilities, businesses and residents along the route of the line, said Kirby.

“These considerations took into account the time of construction, the time of operation and the time of decommissioning in the future,” said Kirby.

Harry Benson of EverPower was impressed with the city’s cooperation.

“Over the last two years, the city of Frostburg, staff, council and EverPower Wind holdings have been working on something that I think is very important to the region to the city and to our company as well. During that time, John Kirby, Chris Hovatter, (city engineer) and Rich Harris (director of community development) really did a great job,” said Benson. “I’ve worked with a lot of cities and counties and the level of professionalism, the knowledge of the topic, the intellect and the work ethic, it just blows my mind how hard these folks worked. The city of Frostburg should be very proud of their team and should appreciate the value they are getting from their team as well.”

The line will carry power from a generated wind farm in Somerset County, Pa., and will run above the ground for about seven miles in Frostburg and Allegany County. It will also link up with a Frostburg substation, according to previous reports.

The private landowners will receive more than $3 million over 25 years and the county will earn tax payments over the life of the project, Benson said in a previous presentation to the county.

The project is expected to begin later this year and be complete by Oct. 31, 2012.

Staff writer Matthew Bieniek contributed to this story.