The proposed wind farm off the coast of Delaware, and improvements the wind farm developer is offering to make to Fenwick Island State Park in return for access to the park for a transmitting station, were the main focus of the Friday, Dec. 6, Fenwick Island Town Council meeting.
After hearing the concerns from residents and calls for an independent organization to be formed in opposition to the wind farm and its associated projects, the town council approved a resolution asking to be included in any formal discussions of the projects going forward.
The resolution, which had been drawn up before the meeting, reads, in part: “The Council is concerned with the substation location in an environmentally sensitive area and desires input into any future revisions of the park plans, substation plans and wind farm plans.”
The Town, by way of the resolution, also “requests that all wind farms be located so they are not visible from the Town of Fenwick Island shorelines.
“We haven’t been sitting on our hands with regard to the wind farm and the park,” Mayor Eugene Langan told residents at the meeting. He said that the Town had let DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin “know of our displeasure” regarding the issues at a meeting in early November, and that members of the Association of Coastal Towns had met with Garvin and with Gov. John Carney about it.
“He didn’t take a stand,” Langan said of Carney, adding that “he acted like he likes public-private partnerships.”
One request made by the coastal towns, however, has been granted: the comment period on the proposal made by Danish wind farm developer Ørsted for an estimated $18 million in improvements to the park has been extended to Jan. 15. (DNREC has emphasized that the comment period is for comments on the proposed park elements only, as construction of the wind farm itself is under federal jurisdiction.)
The resolution from the Town, asking to be included in any formal discussions of the projects, was approved unanimously.
Fenwick resident Janice Bortner read a prepared statement during the meeting in which she urged the council and fellow residents to take a strong stand against the wind farm and the park project.
“DNREC needs to hear a clear and unequivocal ‘No’ to any involvement of Ørsted in the Fenwick Island State Park,” Bortner said. “To be clear, I am not asking for a statement against renewable energy and I’m not saying DNREC can’t spend a little money to refresh the parking lot and bathrooms of Fenwick Island State Park or even make the entrance a bit safer.
“While we all acknowledge the need for clean renewable energy to curb global warming and sea-level rise, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to destroy protected coastal wetlands in the process – the very ecosystem clean energy is intended to protect.
“There are many developed areas up and down the Maryland/Delaware coastline and few areas of undisturbed, protected coastal parkland. Ørsted’s industrial development has no place in Fenwick Island State Park,” Bortner said. “The bottom line is that Ørsted is an invasive species that we cannot let enter Fenwick Island State Park.”
Bortner also pointed to what she said are potential health risks from the transmission station, citing World Health Organization (WHO) studies indicating that electro-magnetic fields around transmission stations may be carcinogenic, “with a statistical augmentation of cancers and leukemias in both children and adults.
“Does anybody here want to test the World Health Organization’s observation by playing pickleball on top of the bunker emitting an electro-magnetic field or setting up a beach chair above a high voltage electric transmission cable?” Bortner asked.
Fenwick property owner Janet Dudley-Eshbach thanked the council for being proactive in the months since the proposals were announced.
“You’ve worked very diligently,” she said. “It’s been very stressful for all of you, and we’re greatly appreciative.”
Council Member Vicki Carmean said the time has come to reach out to Delaware’s Congressional delegation regarding the projects, since the wind farm must receive federal approvals in order to move forward.
“It’s time to reach higher” than state officials, Carmean said.
Langan asked Amy Kyle, newsletter editor for the Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners (FISH), whether that group might spearhead a watchdog group for the projects. Kyle said, “We’re a membership organization. We do our best to inform our members; we’re not really a lobbying organization.”
Kyle added that although “we have been more active” in informing residents about developments in the wind farm and park projects, “We’re not ready to take on a coordinating role.”
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