OAKLAND — The Garrett County commissioners have requested their staff to draft a land-use policy that can be shared with the planning commission, organizations and the general public.

During their weekly meeting Tuesday, commissioners read a statement on land-use management.

“The ongoing interest in the development of shale gas, industrial wind energy and even junkyards brings to light the concerns that exist for property owners,” said the statement. “The absence of any reasonable and prudent land management policy for Garrett County leaves the citizens, visitors, businesses and property owners of Garrett County vulnerable to what many view as an exploitation of our lands.”

John Nelson, director of the Department of Planning and Land Development, informed the commissioners on the process the board will undertake to review and develop a draft ordinance on countywide land use with legislative authority provided to county governmental jurisdictions under the Annotated Code of the State of Maryland, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator.

The policy will take into consideration the ongoing changes to land use in the county and will discuss potential reasonable standards for what are viewed as potential harmful effects of said usages, according to the statement.

“The continuing absence of a comprehensive approach, and the insistence of the state that we have statutory authority to enact regulations to help address basic issues affecting the county, have led the county commission to share the concern of many citizens,” said the statement.

“Citizens, organizations and stakeholders have also expressed apprehension about the lack of a responsible ability to manage areas of concern regarding the potential for changing land uses on a large-scale basis throughout the county. Many feel the failure to act will only allow other institutions and entities to shape and control the future of Garrett County, which may not necessarily balance the interests of all of the stakeholders.”

Commissioners plan to have open dialogue about land use and allow for input from all citizens through open forums and public meetings. Once the draft proposal is complete, the document will be shared on the county website, at public libraries, and citizens who desire a print copy will have one made available.

During a December commission meeting, Commissioner Gregan Crawford voiced his concern about the effects of wind turbines on residents and noted that he would be willing to enter into a motion to develop zoning laws that would regulate the wind projects.

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