CUMBERLAND – Dan’s Mountain Wind Force LLC has temporarily withdrawn part of its application for the proposed 19-turbine wind project that had been filed with the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals.
In a letter dated Dec. 9, Dan’s Mountain requested that the petitions for special exception, variance and administrative modification be withdrawn.
“Even though the Dan’s Mountain application conforms to the Allegany County zoning ordinance and only seeks variances and administrative adjustments that are openly contemplated in the code, it is undoubtedly the most complicated application the Board of Zoning Appeals has ever received,” said David Friend, managing partner with Laurel Renewable Partners LLC. Dan’s Mountain is owned by Laurel Renewable Partners of Greensburg, Pa.
A special exception is a form of permitted use that must be obtained in order to locate a wind farm anywhere in the county, according to Friend.
Dan’s Mountain also submitted an Electromagnetic Interference Analysis that was not withdrawn from the application. That document remains with the board and has been circulated for comment to more than 125 parties, as required by the amended zoning ordinance, according to Friend.
Prior to submitting the application, Dan’s Mountain understood that the county would set a hearing date of Dec. 18, but by Dec. 9 it was determined that the hearing could not be held with appropriate notice, according to Friend. The board is required to publish a notice of application, notify adjacent property owners and then hold a hearing, according to the Maryland Public Service Commission. The board is required to hear applications within 45 days of submission.
“There is no defined procedure at the board for reviewing the legal sufficiency of a petition while postponing the running of the 45-day deadline for holding a hearing,” said Friend. “So after getting some informal feedback that suggested that the board might have difficulty going forward immediately with Dan’s application, our only reasonable available course of action was to withdraw the land use application, while allowing the process of stakeholder review of the Electromagnetic Interference Analysis to go forward.”
The stakeholder review is ongoing.
“Stakeholder review of the study remains an ongoing process and we welcome any comments the county may have,” wrote Matthew S. Brewer, principal with Bennett, Brewer & Associates, LLC in the letter to James Squires, chief of Allegany County Land Development Services.
Dan’s Mountain plans on engaging with the board and resubmitting the petitions before moving forward to the hearing process, according to Friend.
“We now expect to engage informally with the board and its staff to address any comments or concerns they might have to the form of the land use application and specifically, the special exception and variance requests,” said Friend.
During an administrative meeting Dec. 17, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved the wind force’s request for a third construction delay for 19 wind turbines atop Dan’s Mountain.
The PSC granted the motion to extend the deadline for the start of construction of the project to Dec. 31, 2016, and the deadline for the beginning of operations to Dec. 31, 2018.
The project is expected to cost nearly $100 million and bring more than $1 million of new property tax revenue annually to the county, according to Friend.
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