BERLIN – Residents encouraged the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors to oppose offshore wind proposals currently planned for the region.
During Friday’s meeting of the board, members of the Ocean Pines Environmental and Natural Assets Advisory Committee asked the board to take a stand against the wind farm projects currently proposed for the waters off Ocean City.
“We believe the board needs to publicly indicate we are resolutely opposed,” said Ken Wolf, chair of the committee.
Wolf, who is also president of Assateague Coastal Trust, approached the board to share the advisory committee’s concerns about the offshore wind projects proposed for the Atlantic Ocean off Ocean City’s coast. US Wind has plans to put 62 turbines as close as 12-15 miles from the beach in its first phase and Deepwater Wind hopes to put 15 turbines as close as 17-21 miles off the coast.
“They will be clearly visible both day and night,” Wolf said.
Committee member Tom Janasek assured the board the entire environmental committee shared the same concerns.
“We are wholeheartedly behind not approving this wind farm the way it sits,” he said, adding that there could eventually be in excess of 100 turbines just off the coast. “If you’re lying on the beach at the Ocean Pines Beach Club, which is our number one asset, all you’re going to see is those windmills. It’s going to be an eyesore.”
Wolf told the board the committee was concerned that the construction of wind turbines could have a negative impact on property owners in Ocean Pines. He said a North Carolina State University survey revealed that turbines could have a huge impact on tourism. According to the study, 54 percent of vacationers would not rent a property at the beach if turbines were in view.
Wolf said the economic impact of something like that would ripple through all of Worcester County.
“We can see no ongoing benefit to Ocean Pines or the county to justify such a substantial risk,” he said.
Wolf said that if turbines were visible from shore, property values in the area would decrease. He said that while some board members indicated they wanted to avoid getting involved in what they saw as a political issue, it was their duty.
“This is not political,” Wolf said. “I see this as a fiduciary responsibility of your position. You have no clearer obligation than to defend our property owners from such a needless and unfortunate event.”
Wolf suggested the board speak with Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan about the issue. He also recommended the board release a statement in opposition to the wind projects as proposed.
“We feel the voice of our community, due to its considerable size, is crucial in giving cause for those involved to stop and seriously evaluate the issue before proceeding further…,” Wolf said. “Wind energy and unspoiled ocean views are not mutually exclusive. We can have our cake and eat it too we just need to have these moved out of the viewshed.”
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