DEEP CREEK LAKE – The public hearing scheduled for Wednesday for Messenger Limited Partnership’s request to the Garrett County Planning Commission to amend the Deep Creek watershed zoning ordinance to allow a wind farm in the rural resource zoning district has been rescheduled.
During a meeting Jan. 8, the planning commission voted unanimously to postpone the public hearing and rescheduleit for March 5 to allow the applicant more time to assemble information concerning the sound, wildlife impact and the appearance of the proposed wind turbines, according to minutes from the meeting. Planning commissioner Jeff Messenger recused himself from the vote as a landowner involved in the proposed project.
The commission also requested aesthetic views from different perspectives around the area and also raised questions about Maryland Public Service Commission requirements for an application for the wind turbines. During a commission meeting in December, Eric Robison, a member of the Deep Creek Lake Watershed Planning Steering Committee, questioned if Ogin (previously FloDesign) had applied to the PSC for a wind turbine certification for generating power. Lars Dorr, director of business development with Ogin Energy in Waltham, Mass., indicated he wasn’t aware of that requirement.
During the Jan. 8 meeting, Messenger stated that he will ensure that Ogin has the information to answer any questions that may arise at the public hearing. It is up to the developer to assume the risk of being able to comply with any state or federal regulations regarding wind turbines, according to Messenger.
Commission chairman Troy Ellington indicated that the Property Owners’ Association and other groups might have questions and concerns about the proposed turbines and the amendment to the zoning ordinance. The POA plans on attending the public hearing and presenting a paper opposing the proposed amendment, according to president Bob Hoffman.
Wind turbines are prohibited in all zones of the watershed and the amendment would permit them in the rural resource zone only with the condition that the turbines would be 20,000 feet from the high waterline of Deep Creek Lake, Bob Paye, an attorney at Geppert, McMullen, Paye & Getty, P.C., indicated at a previous commission meeting. Another company could propose to construct wind turbines in the rural resource zoning district should Ogin decide to forgo construction, Paul Durham, with the Garrett County Board of Realtors, noted during the meeting.
A company could also petition to be closer than 20,000 feet from Deep Creek Lake and the county commissioners could modify the request at a later date, to make the use a special exception instead of the permitted use that is proposed by the applicant, according to John Nelson, director of Planning and Land Development.
The proposed wind project would be located in the northern edge of the zoning district, four miles north of Deep Creek Lake State Park and would have between 100 to 133 shrouded 100-kilowatt Ogin wind turbines, according to information from Dorr at the December meeting. Ogin manufactures wind turbines that are significantly shorter in stature at 200 feet and they have a shroud around them.
The project is slated to go into commercial operation by the end of 2015, according to Dorr.
The proposed project would need a clearing of about 34 to 40 acres, which includes roads, and there would be about 180 feet, which is an industry standard, between each wind turbine.
The public hearing will now be held March 5 at 1:30 p.m.
A call to Dorr was not returned Monday afternoon.
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