Officials rail against 'false accusations'

CUMBERLAND — The fight between leaders of a citizens group that opposes wind turbines on Dan’s Mountain and the Allegany County commissioners escalated on Thursday when the officials accused the group of spreading “false accusations and misrepresentations.”

Dan’s Mountain, LLC wants to construct 17 wind turbines on the ridgeline of Dan’s Mountain adjacent to the communities of Vale Summit, Loartown, Midland and the Harwood Subdivision.

The issue, which first surfaced in 2015, has placed representatives of Dan’s Mountain Wind Farm LLC against a citizens group opposed to the turbines called Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Limited.

After first denying a setback variance for the wind farm in 2015, the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals voted 2-1 on Oct. 17 to permit the project. Dan’s Mountain LLC must now try to gain approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to proceed with construction.

Opponents of the wind farm, led by ANCHOR President Darlene Park, 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.

County officials say false rumors are being perpetuated by Park and wind farm opponents. County Commissioner Dave Caporale said many of the rumors were circulated during a radio interview.

“I wish to address false accusations and misrepresentations,” Caporale said. “There is a big difference between a bribe and campaign contributions. To suggest individuals were paid $500 (by way of campaign contributions) to help the project move along is shameful and ridiculous. Ms. Park will stoop to do anything to stop economic development in Allegany County.”

Caporale said the wind farm would be financially advantageous for the county.

“When a company is looking to invest millions of dollars and generate almost a million dollars in revenue in your county, that is economic development,” he said. “It is nothing new as we sat and watched as people fought to keep anything from changing in Allegany County. If it is not the Celanese or the Kelly-Springfield returning, we don’t want it and we will fight it.

“Ms. Park called this system flawed. I have news for everyone ... the last process that was issued was misdirected and obstructed greatly.  Countless financial hurdles were put in place to prevent this entity from invested millions into this project.”

Caporale also said accusations of radio communication interference from the turbines and decreases in the property values of neighboring homes were false.

“There has been no decrease in tourism based on (turbine locations in) Garrett County,” said Caporale.

Commissioner Creade Brodie Jr. said a rumor that a turbine would be placed on his property is false.

“They said I live in Vale Summit. I do not,” said Brodie. “That is wrong. I live in Loartown, one of the closest houses to the project. They said if this would happen I would probably move. That is laughable. For someone to say that I would leave or move is shocking.”

Commission President Jake Shade said the issue isn’t a question about personal preference, it’s a question as to whether the turbines are permitted or not permitted in Allegany County.

“I’ll say this, we signed up for it,” said Shade. “But to attack people that we put on the zoning board like Ben Wolters, Dale Dickerhoof and Brian Alderton, who have so much respect and are such good people in this community, to call them into question ... I can’t sit by and see them do that.”

ANCHOR will conduct a public meeting Nov. 12 at the Midland Fire Hall, 14823 Broadway St., at 7 p.m. to provide an update on the project.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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