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Council backs county on wind bill

GALENA – State Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr. received the support of the Galena town council for a bill he submitted in the General Assembly relating to a wind farm proposal in Kent County.

The town council unanimously agreed to submit a letter of support for Hershey’s bill to fellow backers, the Kent County Commissioners.

Apex Clean Energy plans to build 25 to 35 wind turbines, each about 500 feet tall, in the Kennedyville area. If approved in the General Assembly, Hershey’s bill would ensure the county commissioners, not the state, retain approval authority over the project.

“It appears as though they’re trying very hard to push this on us. I, for one, don’t think it’s a good idea, to put it mildly,” Mayor Sam Sessa said of Apex and its Mills Branch Wind project.

Councilman Jason Conner suggested the town write a letter.

Former mayor Harry Pisapia said the council previously avoided taking stances on projects outside its jurisdiction.

“You’re representing the people of the town. There may be people in town that are for it, and you’re saying the town’s against it,” Pisapia said. “I agree with you. I don’t like it either.”

Councilman Kirk Blackard said the council previously offered its support when individual farmers sought approval of 120-foot-tall turbines in the county.

Sessa said he thinks the Apex project will have an impact on the town. He said every resident who has spoken to him with knowledge of Mills Branch Wind has opposed it.

Councilman John Carroll said the project is on the agenda for the April 15 Council of Governments meeting in Betterton. The organization comprises representatives from all the local governing bodies in Kent County.

There was a question as to who to send a letter, the county or the state Public Service Commission, which is the agency expected to review Apex’s application.

“You might have to address your concerns to the state or whoever is the ultimate approving authority,” Town Attorney Tom Yeager said.

Resident Bill Graham, who organized Keep Kent Scenic in opposition of Mills Branch Wind, said Apex has not yet engaged the PSC. He suggested the council send a letter joining the county commissioners in opposition of the project.

“The company’s been here two years, schmoozing the farmers,” Graham said. “This is a real project now.”

He said Keep Kent Scenic has sent letters to all the municipalities seeking their support in opposition of Mills Branch Wind.

“I’m thinking it might not hurt to keep an eye on it at this point,” Sessa said.

Yeager said the council could adopt a resolution stating its opposition to the wind farm.

Sessa questioned the need to officially state a position on the project.

Yeager said the council could state its support for Hershey’s bill.

“I think that would be a very good choice,” Sessa said.

Carroll made a motion to send a letter of support for Hershey’s bill to the county commissioners. The motion carried unanimously.