PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- Safe for Somerset, the group opposed to one proposed wind project in Somerset County, held a public forum about the plan that has drawn a lot of controversy over the year.
Hours before the doors of Princess Anne’s Civic Center opened to the public, WBOC got a sneak peek of exhibits on display. Members said the purpose of the meeting is to provide information on the project and its effects on Somerset County.
The event featured nine stations, each pinpointing concerns about the Great Bay Wind Project that would bring 25 wind turbines at 599 feet to Westover.
Dr. Randolph George is a member of the group. He is a retired neurosurgeon and said he was assigned to study the health effects from turbines.
“We have found in the past 10 years that the low frequency sound is what causes people to get sick and to move out of their home,” Dr. George said. He also said the machines cause headaches and make it difficult for people to sleep.
Other concerns addressed issues involving diminished property values, fear of malfunctioning turbines, environmental impact, noise and shadow flickering from the turbines. Tammy Truitt, who helped organize the forum, explains why some people cannot imagine living beneath the machines.
“Shadow flicker can bring on headaches; it also can cause vertigo and in some cases, and for people who are hypersensitive, it can bring on seizures,” Truitt said.
Pioneer Green Energy, a Texas-based company, is behind the $273 million investment. Development Manager Paul Harris said the company has spent years conducting studies and research on some of the issues addressed at the forum.
“With the case of health, there’s been 19 different peer review studies that have all concluded that there is no negative health impacts from wind turbines and that has been reiterated over and over and over again,” Harris said. “There is no strong scientific research that would prove otherwise.”
Harris said his team was not invited to today’s forum, but they are aware of the group’s concerns.
” We take all those types of things into consideration in the siting and design of our project,” Harris said. “We spent over five years in the county, doing different types of studies and analyses in order to ensure the project is sited responsibly,” said Harris, during a phone interview.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) vetoed a bill, that passed in the Maryland General Assembly this year, that would have delayed the project. Though developers are not able to move forward until County Commissioners’ adopt an ordinance, Harris tells WBOC that Pioneer Green does not plan to kill the project.
Somerset County’s Planning and Zoning Director Gary Pusey said the current draft ordinance involves turbines that are 400 feet with a setback of at least 1,000 feet. Harris said 400 feet is not tall enough for utility scale turbines
While height is one issue that is being discussed, noise standards were recently under review. Before commission members reversed a decision to issue a nighttime limit of 55 decibels at night and 65 decibels during the day, 40 decibels, which is lower than the state standard, was put in place.
Truitt said the group is not satisfied with the current standard.
Somerset County’s Planning and Zoning Commission will submit final recommendations to County Commissioners Oct. 28 before the ordinance is finalized and adopted.
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