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PRINCESS ANNE – With just days left for input on a proposed wind turbine ordinance, residents throughout Somerset County are continuing to voice concerns about the ramifications for residents and wildlife.
“I don’t want the wind turbines because of the health impact and the noise can cause lack of sleep,” said Tammy Truitt, a Somerset County resident who is concerned about the wind turbines after searching for information about them online.
Citing the website for National Wind Watch, Truitt and Tanna Johnson said they are worried about noise pollution, insomnia, headaches and nausea that have been reported by people who claim they live near wind turbines throughout the United States.
While the allegations claiming industrial wind turbines cause health issues are scattered throughout the U.S., they have made their way onto the agendas of some state governments.
In February, a state-appointed panel in Massachusetts found no serious health risks associated with living near wind turbines.
However, during a hearing, resident Neil Anderson said he began experiencing headaches, dizziness and palpitations after a 400-foot high wind turbine went up about a quarter-mile from his home.
Even though the panel did not find any conclusive evidence on the impact of wind turbines on health, the report – commissioned by Massachusetts state environmental and public health officials – did raise the possibility that sound generated by the wind turbines could be annoying to nearby residents or cause sleep disruptions. They recommended the state of Massachusetts implement noise limit guidelines on the wind turbines.
While the Somerset County ordinance to allow turbines in agricultural-residential, general commercial, light industrial and general industrial districts has not yet been approved, Johnson said she is already worried about how they will impact her and those around her.
“I have a fiance that has traumatic brain injury,” said Johnson, who is concerned he could be further impacted by the low-frequency vibration and noise of the turbines. “One of those turbines will sound like a refrigerator.”
John Congendo, president of AC Wind, said the rumors about “wind turbine syndrome” haven’t been substantiated, and added he believes wind power is widely misunderstood in some areas.
“In reality, when you drill down the people who have come out against this, who are afraid … because of a lack of knowledge,” said Congendo. “Studies have proven there is really no affect on anyone.”
If the ordinance is approved by the Somerset County Commissioners, anyone wishing to have a turbine erected will have to submit a site plan that will be reviewed and approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission following a review and approval by the Board of Zoning appeals.
The turbines that receive a special exemption will have to be built 500 feet from a participating residence, 750 feet from a non-participating resident and 1,000 feet from any schools.
The ordinance also requires those seeking approval of a turbine to comply with the noise control requirements in Maryland’s code.
“Somerset County finds that wind energy is an abundant, renewable and non-polluting energy resource and that its conversion to electricity will reduce dependence on nonrenewable energy resources and decrease the air and wind pollution that results from the use of conventional energy sources,” reads the summary of findings form the ordinance. “Industrial Wind Energy Conversion Systems will also enhance the reliability and power quality of the power grid, reduce peak power demands and help diversify the state’s energy supply.”
» The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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