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Hearing on wind turbines set May 20

CUMBERLAND – The Maryland Public Service Commission has scheduled a hearing for May 20 at 6:30 p.m. to accept public comment on a proposed plan to install 17 wind turbines on Dan’s Mountain.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the meeting will be a virtual hearing via Cisco Webex, an online video conferencing platform.

In a case that has dragged on for years, Dan’s Mountain Wind Force LLC has sought permission to install the energy-generating turbines, however a citizens’ group known as the Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Limited, or ANCHOR, has opposed the project.

The plan calls for turbines to be built on the ridgeline of Dan’s Mountain near the communities of Midland and the Harwood Subdivision, along with Vale Summit, Cresaptown and Bel Air. Opponents argue that the turbines create excessive noise pollution, light flicker and destruction of neighborhood views. They also fear the turbines, which are nearly 500 feet in height, will negatively impact property values.

Darlene Park, ANCHOR president, said her organization, which has dozens of supporters, will participate in the hearing.

“I feel good about it,” she said. “Everything is positive. We can have this ended through this process and prevent this.”

The plan for wind turbines was denied by the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals in 2015 but, through an appeals process, a state court sent the case back to Allegany County in 2019. In October, a new group of zoning board members approved the project by a 2-1 vote. The project also has the support of the three-member Allegany County Board of Commissioners.

For the project to receive final approval, Dan’s Mountain Wind Force must receive a certificate of public convenience from the Public Service Commission. The May 20 hearing is part of that process.

“Everybody will get to speak if they register,” Park said. “I don’t know what the capabilities are with the virtual system. We hope they have options for people who don’t have the current cameras.”

A physical hearing was set for March 19 in Frostburg but was canceled due to restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus.

“I’m working on getting a telephone conference call option included,” Park said. “If you don’t have the technology you need, get a letter in as soon as possible.”

Written comments may be submitted electronically or by first-class mail by May 29. Comments submitted electronically must be submitted through the commission’s public comment dropbox, which can be accessed at the website www.psc.state.md.us.

Instructions for logging into the dropbox are located under the “Tools” section of the website under the “Make a Public Comment” tab, which can be accessed via the following link: https://www.psc.state.md.us/make-a-public-comment/.

Commenters utilizing the dropbox are required to complete a one-time registration, and must utilize the mail log dropdown menu option and select mail log No. 228173.

If submitted by first-class mail, comments must be addressed to Andrew S. Johnston, Executive Secretary, Maryland Public Service Commission, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202. Only one copy is required. No public comments will be accepted after May 29.

The public comment hearing on May 20 will also be live streamed on the public service commission’s YouTube channel, which can be found under the title, Maryland PSC.

Park said the PSC, after gathering public comment, will likely hold an administrative hearing in June in an effort to make a final decision. ANCHOR’s attorney will be present at that meeting, according to Park. She said a final ruling could come at the June meeting or the matter could be tabled for need of further information.