OAKLAND – A meteorological tower permit for the Clipper Fair Wind project on Backbone Mountain may be issued this week, according to Jim Torrington, chief of the Garrett County Permits and Inspections Division.
“We have had a concept plan submittal (part of the county’s stormwater management ordinance requirements) by Clipper for a nine-turbine wind park to be known as Fair Wind located south of the recently constructed 28 turbine facility,” said Torrington in an email with the Times-News.
A concept plan is the first of three required plan approvals that includes the necessary information to allow for an initial evaluation of a proposed project, according to the county’s stormwater ordinance.
Before wind turbines can be fully operational, the permits division has to issue a variety of additional permits, such as a grading permit, which can take up to a year, a building permit and certificate of use for each wind turbine.
A draft land-use management ordinance, a portion of that deals with wind turbine setbacks, was up for a vote during a June 26 Garrett County commission meeting, but nothing was decided during the meeting.
After three separate motions that died, the commissioners reached a stalemate and indicated that they would regroup addressing the ordinance at another time.
During a previous discussion of the wind turbine setbacks, Kevin Brokish, a project manager for the Fair Wind project, said industrial wind turbines are getting higher off the ground and that the Criterion Wind Project wouldn’t have been viable with the 375-foot height restrictions that were previously proposed in the ordinance.
“My company and I are for reasonable wind setbacks. We think it’s inappropriate for a turbine to be a mere 500 feet from a home that is not signed with the project,” said Brokish during a May discussion of the setbacks.
During the May meeting, Brokish said Clipper Windpower Development LLC voluntarily places units 1,000 feet from residences. “More recently we have increased that distance to 1,200 feet,” he said.
Another project that has been in the works is the Annapolis-based Synergics wind turbine project on Four Mile Ridge, where meteorological tower permits were issued in December.
In a previous interview with the Times-News, Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesman, estimated that the earliest the Four Mile Ridge project would begin is in 2013, but it will likely begin later.
During the most recent discussion of the ordinance in June, the commissioners said there were petitions with 94 signatures supporting the project on Four Mile Ridge. In addition, the commission received petitions with 642 signatures opposing the draft land-use management ordinance.
“Shame on Maryland. Shame on us for not having something in place before this whole thing took off,” said Commission Chairman Jim Raley during the June commission meeting. “That’s unfortunate because we are amongst projects that already exist and some projects are in the pipeline.”
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