CUMBERLAND – A decision on a proposal to install 17 energy-generating windmills on Dan’s Mountain has been delayed until Oct. 16.
The three-member Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals heard arguments pro and con from attorneys Wednesday regarding the proposal, but postponed a ruling to review evidentiary documents. The hearing was held at the county office complex on Kelly Road.
The proposed wind farm would be installed along the ridgeline of Dan’s Mountain near the community of Midland.
Although a verdict was anticipated Wednesday, Roman Rozas III, attorney for the zoning board, said at the conclusion of the five-hour hearing that more time was needed.
“There is a lot of material to look at and the board has mentioned several records they would like to go back and look at,” Rozas said. “We will come and deliberate and reach a decision next Wednesday.”
Gorman Getty represented Dan’s Mountain Wind Force, LLC and Paul Flynn, a Frederick-based attorney, represented a citizens group opposed to the wind farm.
The proposal has been receiving pushback from citizens who formed the Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Limited. They say the wind farm will create excessive noise pollution, light flicker and destruction of neighborhood views. They also fear the wind turbines, which are nearly 500 feet tall, will reduce property values.
The proposal to place a 38-megawatt, 17-turbine wind energy system on Dan’s Mountain was first presented to the zoning board in 2015. The application was denied, however, the principals behind the proposal appealed. The case ultimately ended up at the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in 2018. That court ruled there was merit for another review by the local zoning board and subsequently remanded the case back to Allegany County.
Present at the hearing was David Friend, managing partner for Laurel Renewable Partners, LLC which owns the Dan’s Mountain Wind Force.
The project is expected to utilize 2,900 acres – approximately 4.5 square miles. The proposed site is not in Dan’s Mountain State Park or the adjacent Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
Documents show the cost of the project between $90 million and $100 million with Allegany County standing to accrue $1 million annually in tax revenue.
However, the effort to secure the required setback and separation variances from the zoning board has proved difficult for Dan’s Mountain Wind Force.
The evidence reviewed at the hearing was limited to the same material presented at the 2015 hearing, as dictated by state guidelines.
Gorman argued that the material submitted supporting the application was thorough and checked all boxes needed for approval of the project. Considerations included an electromagnetic interference analysis, environmental site design review, wetlands study and the impact on rare plants and Allegheny woodrat habitat.
“The Court of Special Appeals concluded the evidence was legally sufficient to support the variances,” said Gorman. “We ask you to allow the wind farm to be built.”
Flynn attempted to poke holes in that argument, saying that much of the criteria examined for the application was not germane to the Dan’s Mountain area. He also said the project was based on an aggregate view of the site and did not take into consideration the disposition of the individual homes.
“The entire application is based on the premise this is one property and it isn’t and it can’t be,” said Flynn. “When you reach that conclusion you can see immediately that they don’t get past the starting line.”