Cumberland Times-News

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January 21, 2013

Commissioners expected to decide on Deep Creek watershed zoning amendments

Plans for proposed wind project to be reviewed

OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners will decide today whether or not to move forward with a planning commission’s recommendation to amend the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance. During the recent circuit court hearing on Bill Meagher’s mini-marina, it was noted that there was a conflict in the ordinance and that some changes needed to be made.

“This conflict between the ordinance and the state statute was discovered during the current litigation involving the zoning text amendment for the boat rental service business approved earlier this year,” wrote John Nelson, director of Planning and Land Development, in a December letter to the commissioners. “The Planning Commission has concluded that the discrepancy should be rectified.”

The commissioners voted at the Jan. 8 meeting to hold the public comment period open and delay the decision until today.

 St. Moritz Properties LLC, Bill’s Marine Service Inc. and Silver Tree Marine LLC are suing the Garrett County Board of Zoning Appeals, county commissioners, Lakeside Commercial Properties LLC and William Meagher, owner of the Lakeside Creamery, in regard to previous amendments in the ordinance.

“Had the findings of fact been performed correctly and in a timely fashion, then the county would not be facing a lawsuit today,” wrote Carol Jacobs, president of Aquatic Center Inc. in a letter to the commissioners. “The findings of fact are required in every county in Maryland. If findings of fact had been performed prior to making a decision, in the mini-marina case, then the outcome might have been different.”

 One of the proposed changes to the amendments would require the commissioners to make findings of fact that include present and future transportation patterns on the highway in the area where the purpose and effect of the proposed amendment is to change the zoning classification.

“The transportation pattern and the carrying capacity of the lake should have been studied,” wrote Jacobs.  “The transportation pattern and accidents on Garrett Highway should have been evaluated. Public safety is now at risk.”

Aquatic Center Inc., Bills Marine Service Inc., Deep Creek Lake Enterprises Inc., Silver Tree Marine LLC and St. Moritz Properties LLC filed a petition for a judicial review of the county’s decision to amend text in the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance for boat rentals. The mini-marina doesn’t offer any of the services associated with a marina. During a hearing in December in circuit court, Judge Jim Sherbin dismissed the judicial review. Also during the hearing a declaratory judgment and an administrative agency appeal were consolidated and a hearing was set for March 29.

Also on the agenda for today’s meeting, the Department of Planning and Land Development will hold a county review of concept and site development plan of the proposed Fourmile Ridge wind project in eastern Garrett County near Frostburg. Synergics has submitted both a concept plan and site development plan.

Both plans are part of the county’s stormwater management ordinance process, which requires three phases of submission.

On Jan. 14, Synergics Wind Energy LLC and Fourmile Wind Energy LLC filed a request for a waiver of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity requirements for a tap line to serve the project, according to a Maryland Public Service Commission filing. Synergics is requesting the waiver be granted by April 1 to allow construction to begin immediately on the line.

Also on the agenda the Department of Public Utilities will provide a review of the western conveyance water and wastewater; approval of the Garrett County Hazard Mitigation Plan; and adoption of the Deep Creek Lake Shoreline Stabilization Projects Incentive Program policy.

The meeting will take place at 11 a.m. in Room 207 in the Courthouse.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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