County backing wind farm project

CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Board of Commissioners has sent a letter of support to the Maryland Public Service Commission for the construction of the Dan’s Mountain Wind Farm.

The proposed project calls for the construction of 17 wind turbines atop Dan’s Mountain.

Filed with the PSC Nov. 20, the letter is signed by Commissioners Jake Shade, Dave Caporale and Creade Brodie Jr.

“Allegany County stands behind the project because it provides an essential revitalization of lost revenue, creates employment opportunities, conforms to the desire of our legislation and governor to increase the state’s renewable energy portfolio and will have little to no discernible effect on property values or tourism within the area,” the county’s letter reads.

The project calls for the 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.

Darlene Park, president of the ANCHOR (Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Limited), has been fighting the wind farm since the case first surfaced in 2015.

Opponents of the proposal say the turbines create excessive noise pollution, light flicker and destruction of neighborhood views. They also fear the turbines, which are nearly 500 feet tall, will reduce property values.

In 2015, the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals denied the setbacks needed for the wind farm’s parent company, Laurel Renewable Energies, to proceed with the project.

However, on appeal, the zoning board, with three new commissioners, voted 2-1 on Oct. 16 in favor of granting the setback variances and special exception needed for the project to move forward.

Park said Wednesday the fight will continue and the group intends to file an appeal this week in the Circuit Court of Allegany County. She said she could not yet release the specific grounds of appeal, but “I am very confident we will have this decision overturned.” 

The county commissioners sent their letter to the PSC because Dan’s Mountain Wind Farm must also secure its approval for a certificate of public convenience and necessity before the project can officially move forward.

The commissioners said in their letter that the county has lost between $1.5 million and $2 million annually in tax revenue from the closing of the Verso paper mill in Luke, and revenue from the wind farm could help soften the blow.

“Allegany County stands to profit approximately $1.124 million in tax revenue the first year,” the letter reads.

The county expects to see a revenue of $950,000 per year in each of the following years.

The wind farm will create nearly 150 jobs during construction and approximately 50 positions once operational, according to the letter. 

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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