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Hearing on Dan's Mountain wind energy project scheduled March 4

Cumberland Times-News

Feb. 22--CUMBERLAND -- A hearing on the proposed Dan's Mountain Wind Farm has been scheduled for March 4 in Baltimore by the Maryland Public Service Commission.

The hearing could be a key moment in the controversial case that has pitted proponents of the wind farm against a citizens group known as Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Limited, or ANCHOR.

The proposed wind farm includes placing 17 turbines on the ridgeline of Dan's Mountain near the communities of Midland and the Harwood Subdivision, along with Vale Summit, Cresaptown and Bel Air.

"It's up in the air how things will go," said Darlene Park, ANCHOR president, in a Times-News interview. "We have to fight until the end."

Opponents of the turbines say the structures create excessive noise pollution, light flicker and unwanted vibrations for residents in the vicinity. They say the turbines will also reduce property values.

The PSC hearing will take place at the The William Donald Schaefer Tower, 16th Floor, 6 St. Paul St., Baltimore.

"To give you an idea, the Schaefer Tower is 37 floors, 493 feet tall," said Park. "The wind turbines requested in the application are 496 feet tall. They will be taller than the Schaefer Tower."

An application for the project was first heard by the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals in 2015 and denied. However, the case wound up at the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in 2018, which voted to send it back to Allegany County, asking the local zoning board to take another look. In October, the zoning board, with three new members, approved the project in a 2-1 vote.

The Allegany County Board of Commissioners has supported the zoning board's decision subsequently backing the wind farm project.

The public is welcome to attend the March 4 hearing and citizens may sign up to speak. Park said she is not sure if the PSC will make a ruling that day or take the information presented into consideration for a decision at a later date. She said they have secured an attorney to represent ANCHOR at the hearing.

"It will be a structured hearing," said Park. "You can speak at the hearing. You can sign up to make a comment. They do have a time restriction."

County Commission President Jake Shade spoke on the topic at a January county meeting.

"As a fiduciary of Allegany County government, I believe that it would be detrimental and a disservice for Allegany County to simply pass on this project and the important revenues associated with it," said Shade. "The proposed $110 million project on Dan's Mountain would bring in an average of $951,556 in tax revenues (to the county) each of the first 10 years, making it instantly the third largest tax assessment in the county. When every landowner and adjacent landowner approves of this project, should the commissioners attempt to nullify private property rights and the decision of the (Allegany County) Board of Zoning Appeals to fight this project and purposely miss out on over $9.5 million in revenues over the next 10 years?"

Park fears the turbines ultimately installed on Dan's Mountain could be even larger than the PSC application indicates.

Park said the PSC will take letters into consideration. The deadline for filing letters is March 2.

Letters should be written to the attention of: Mr. Andrew S. Johnston, Executive Secretary Maryland Public Service Commission. The mailing address is: William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., 16th Floor, Baltimore, Md. 21202. The letter should indicate: RE: Application of Dan's Mountain Wind Force, LLC to the Maryland Public Service Commission for a CPCN Exemption Under Public Utilities Article 7-207.1.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.


(c)2020 the Cumberland Times News (Cumberland, Md.)

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