OAKLAND — The Garrett County Commissioners are still hoping for legislation to allow for wind turbine setbacks.

“We looked into it over the summer and our attorney (Mike Getty) told us we didn’t have the authority,” Denny Glotfelty, chairman, said. “There is no reason not to get legislation. Mr. Getty reiterated that we ask for legislation to single out wind turbines.”

When the commissioners presented the request for such legislation to Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel recently, there was question as to whether the county already has the authority to do this.

Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator, said that at the public legislative session, Beitzel again suggested that the county already has the ability to create restrictions on wind turbines.

Pagenhardt said that after contacting Getty once more, it was still the county attorney’s opinion that there is nothing in Article 25 of the Annotated Code of Maryland that would allow the county to enforce these restrictions specifically on the wind turbine industry.

In e-mails to the two legislators, Pagenhardt said that the commissioners reaffirmed the opinion that without countywide zoning, they could not establish these setback requirements without state law backing them.

Another issue presented to the legislators was addressed at the commission meeting Tuesday.

Kermit Yoder of Accident said that he hoped to see something done that would allow the county to have more authority either over the Garrett County Humane Society or over the seizure of animals.

Glotfelty said that until state law gives the county the authority to let county employees seize animals, the county could not send out their own employees to do this. That leaves the humane society, which has the authority under state law, as the acting body to seize animals that are either not receiving proper health care or do not have the basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.

As a volunteer organization and not a county governmental body, the county government does not have authority over the humane society, and until the state grants the county the authority they are “in limbo,” according to Glotfelty, who said the only option is to take it to the legislature.

Yoder also questioned why, when he had requested a meeting with the commissioners in April, humane society members had been invited.

Glotfelty said it was to ensure that both sides of the issue were presented and that the meeting was public.

“Really, we’re not siding,” Fred Holliday, county commissioner, said. “We have no authority over the humane society. … This is a private issue.”

Holliday suggested that until some kind of state law could be passed, that people who oppose the methods used by the humane society might try joining the group to offer another point of view and another understanding of keeping livestock.

Contact Sarah Moses at smoses@times-news.com.

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