PRINCESS ANNE – Somerset County Commissioners plan to make revisions to a controversial industrial wind energy ordinance, including increasing the setback from neighboring residential properties.
The commissioners also will meet with Steve Smethurst, the attorney for a group of Marion Station opponents, during a work session next week.
Smethurst will be allowed one hour to present a case on behalf of his clients.
Although the commissioners generally accept public comment for only 10 days following a public hearing, they have continued to accept it long after the Feb. 28 hearing, said Rex Simpkins, president of the commissioners.
“We will continue taking public comment up until we’re finished,” he said in a meeting this week.
County Commissioners recently visited a wind farm in upstate New York and worked on revisions to the proposed Somerset County ordinance after they returned, Simpkins said.
“Some of your concerns may be addressed,” he told Smethurst, who attended this week’s meeting along with about a dozen Marion Station residents.
Among the proposed revisions are an increase in the setback from a turbine to a neighboring residence from 750 feet to 1,000 feet.
It also would set the lowest point of a turbine blade a minimum of 30 feet from the ground, and addresses the impact on county roads from heavy equipment used for construction and operation of wind farms.
Two wind energy developers are currently working with private land owners in the county, including Pioneer Green, which has more than 50 signed leases for about 10,000 acres along the Route 413 corridor between Westover and Marion.
Opponents point to studies and reports from people living near turbines in other parts of the country that say they can cause migraine headaches, insomnia, seizures and other problems.
On the other side, proponents point to studies by the state of Massachusetts, the Sierra Club and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California that say wind energy systems do not cause health problems.
The city of Crisfield – which has already adopted its own wind ordinance – is planning to install a 300-foot, 750-kilowatt turbine on land next to the sewage treatment plant. Construction is expected to start in late summer or fall.
Recently, representatives of Associated Wind Developers proposed building a turbine next to Woodson Elementary School in Crisfield.
The Board of Education is still considering the request.
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