CHESTERTOWN – Keep Kent Scenic and Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, two citizen-supported groups committed to farmland preservation, have created an alliance and entered into an agreement to cooperate in opposing a proposed wind farm in central Kent County.
Apex Clean Energy plans to build 25 to 35 turbines up to about 500 feet tall on farmland located between state Routes 213 and 291 in the Kennedyville area. The company has met with opposition from local residents concerned about the impacts an industrial-scale wind farm could have for the area.
According to a Monday, May 11 news release, William Graham, Keep Kent Scenic organizer, and QACA board Chairman Caroline Gabel signed the agreement forming the alliance. QACA will reportedly provide staff assistance to Keep Kent Scenic and receive and disburse tax-deductible contributions from citizens opposing the Apex project, until Keep Kent Scenic files for official nonprofit status.
In a statement, Jay Falstad, QACA executive director, said, “We are happy to be working with our friends in Kent County to stop this ill-conceived project, because if it were to come to pass, it would destabilize the farm economy and rural character, not just of Kent County, but of the whole Upper Shore. At an earlier time in the last century, we were once the Kent-Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, and now it’s time once again for conservation-minded residents of our two counties to work together to protect this unique region of the Eastern Shore.”
Both organizations have begun preparing for the anticipated round of regulatory proceedings and have made initial contacts with some of the agencies likely to be involved, the release states. Options reportedly under active study also include legislation and litigation to preserve local control over private industrial uses of farmland and to safeguard landowners’ ancient “right of quiet enjoyment” of their property.
“The local control issue is very important here,” Graham said in a statement.
He said a Kent County task force on renewable energy determined five years ago that there are insufficient resources for a large-scale wind farm.
“That’s why our local law limits wind energy systems to much smaller installations that do not try to produce power for off-site sale. Our county’s carefully considered decision on this subject ought to be respected,” Graham said.
Falstad said the two groups are studying other environmental health issues reportedly associated with wind farms, including low frequency noise.
“We’re watching all this closely,” Falstad said. “The Apex project, if it were built, would likely drive some Kent County families off their farms. Then, as others begin to shun the Upper Shore as a place to farm, and as property values begin to decline, we’ll start to see the destruction of a rural environment that we should have preserved for future generations of farmers, farm produce consumers, and vacationers.”
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