WESTOVER, Md.- The chairperson of Somerset County’s Planning and Zoning Commission resigns after members approved higher turbines under a controversial wind energy proposal.
In a 3-1 vote on Oct. 28, the commission made adjustments to a draft ordinance that raised the maximum turbine height from 400 to 575 feet. Dr. Fleury was the only member who voted against the provision.
“We had very little information. “We reviewed lots of information about health issues, about safety issues, [but] it was all about turbines that were less than 400 feet,” Dr. Fleury said.
Pioneer Green Energy, the company behind the multimillion-dollar investment, wants to build 25 turbines, each 599 feet, in Westover. However, Dr. Fleury said anything higher than 400 feet may pose some health risks.
“There’s something called wind turbine syndrome, which is associated with insomnia, headaches and the inability to concentrate,” she said. She said one Wisconsin health department condemned a similar project due to health concerns.
In the past, Project Manager Paul Harris said the company reviewed several studies about the project’s health and economic impact. Developers reviewed a health study by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which reads “most epidemiologic literature on human response to wind turbines relates to self-reported “annoyance.”
Harris previously told WBOC there is no concrete evidence to prove the illness.
“They’re right. There is a lot of conflicting information; however this project is a little bit unique in terms of the height of the turbines,” Dr. Fleury said.
After eight years of service, Fleury submitted a letter of resignation to County Commissioners because she felt like her concerns about higher turbines were being ignored.
“I felt that the issues I brought up were not being dealt with by other members of the committee,” she said.
The county did not comment on the reasons behind her resignation, but in a statement, the director of Somerset County’s Planning and Zoning Department said“Dr. Fleury was a valuable, experienced member of the Planning Commission who always came well-prepared to the meetings and was extremely knowledgeable about a wide range of issues, many of them complex, that the Planning Commission had to consider.”
“She took her role as Planning Commissioner seriously and that showed in her preparations for the meetings. She was deliberate and well-reasoned in her opinions and her contributions will be missed.”
Earlier this week, county commissioners delayed their decision on approving the proposal, since two commissioners voted to kill the project, two voted to table it, pending the outcome of the FAA, and one commissioner abstained from the vote.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will submit its draft ordinance to commissioners next week.
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