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OAKLAND – On Thursday, Garrett County commissioners discussed possible setback regulations on industrial wind turbines, meteorological towers and gas industries during a discussion of the Land Use Management Ordinance draft, facilitated by John Nelson, director of the Department of Planning and Land Development.
The draft ordinance regulates MET tower height to 50 feet and states that the wind turbines must be 2,000 feet from a residence, church, school or other occupied structure and 1,000 feet from a property line not owned or leased by the company installing the wind conversion energy systems.
It also states a wind turbine blade can only measure 375 feet at its highest point.
Nelson said he believes current wind turbines are 410 feet.
“The number may or may not go out to the public,” said Raley. “We may go back and say, ‘Well, they are already 410 then we may as well put them as 410. That is a discussion we will have.”
Residents questioned Nelson as to where he got the setback numbers for the wind turbines and said the setbacks seem anti-wind.
“I can tell you setback letters are coming in both ways,” said Raley. “One person says they are too restrictive and another person said I live there and they are not restrictive enough, and I’ve been to the Pinnacle Wind Farm (on Green Mountain in Keyser) and I do believe it imposes on people.”
All discussions of the draft ordinance have been held in public and will continue to be, according to Raley. The next discussion will be held April 10 at 10 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room in the courthouse.
One resident questioned whether wind turbine substations would be permitted under the draft ordinance.
“Those would be permitted as well, automatically, by right under the utility provision. The setback requirements don’t apply to the substation, just the wind turbines itself,” said Nelson.
Clipper Windpower Development voluntarily offered a minimum setback before its project was constructed, according to Nelson. The setback was 1,000 feet, according to a Clipper employee who was in attendance.
The draft ordinance also contains proposed language that addresses the underground disposal of hydraulic fracturing water associated with Marcellus shale drilling.
Nelson said that it would be advantageous to have a stakeholders group that could review the ordinance, work on the details and provide a much more public process where the details could be discussed and debated.
Once the draft ordinance is complete, it will be placed on the county’s website and in the public library before a public hearing is held.
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