PRINCESS ANNE – A small group of Marion Station residents say they will “suffer tremendously” if Somerset County Commissioners adopt an ordinance regulating large-scale wind-energy systems.
Tammy Truitt said she enjoys the peace and quiet on rural Whittington Road. But if turbines are allowed on nearby farmland, the neighborhood won’t be so attractive anymore, resulting in decreased property values.
“This is going to destroy all that,” she said during a public hearing this week. “These wind turbines are going to make our area a wasteland.”
Truitt said she has found reports of wind turbines causing health problems for nearby residents. Meanwhile, farmers will maybe money by renting their land to wind-energy producers.
“We’ll get no benefit, but will suffer tremendously,” she said.
But county planning officials said the proposed ordinance is designed to allow for input from nearby property owners before turbines are erected.
Wind-energy systems will only be allowed by special exception, which requires a public hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals, said Gary Pusey, the county’s planning director.
The proposed ordinance also will require a minimum property line setback of one times the height of the unit plus 20 feet. It also requires a 750-foot setback from neighboring residences.
Commercial turbines would be allowed only in areas of the county zoned for agricultural-residential, general commercial, light industrial and general industrial use, Pusey said.
The ordinance also addresses noise, electromagnetic interference and appearance, he said.
The county’s Planning Commission started working on an ordinance a year ago with input from the Maryland Energy Administration, wind-energy companies and Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
Only one or two other Maryland counties had enacted ordinances, so there was little precedent for the board to follow, Pusey said.
“We’re basically starting from scratch,” he said.
The Planning Commission gave the measure a favorable recommendation following a Jan. 5 public hearing.
The County Commissioners and state regulatory agencies must also approve it before it can take effect.
Two companies – Pioneer Green Energy and Delsea Energy – talked to Somerset farmers and other owners of large tracts in the hopes of leasing areas to install turbines.
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