CUMBERLAND — Jake Shade, president of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners, defended the board’s support Thursday for the placement of 17 wind turbines on Dan’s Mountain.
“As a fiduciary of Allegany County government, I believe that it would be detrimental and a disservice for Allegany County to simply pass on this project and the important revenues associated with it,” said Shade.
The county commissioners are supporting a plan by Dan’s Mountain Wind Force LLC to construct the 17 turbines on the ridgeline of Dan’s Mountain near the communities of Midland and the Harwood Subdivision, along with Vale Summit, Cresaptown and Bel Air.
Although the project has received opposition from a sizable citizens’ group, Shade detailed his support for the project. Shade’s remarks were part of his “State of County” presentation made at Thursday’s county meeting at the county office complex on Kelly Road.
“The proposed $110 million project on Dan’s Mountain would bring in an average of $951,556 in tax revenues (to the county) each of the first 10 years, making it instantly the third largest tax assessment in the county,” said Shade. “When every landowner and adjacent landowner approves of this project, should the commissioners attempt to nullify private property rights and the decision of the (Allegany County) Board of Zoning Appeals to fight this project and purposely miss out on over $9.5 million in revenues over the next 10 years?”
The project was initially denied by the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals in 2015, however, through an appeals process, a state court sent the case back to Allegany County in 2019. In October, a new group of zoning board members approved the project in a 2-1 vote. However, the project must now go before the Maryland Public Service Commission to be approved for a certificate of public convenience before work on the wind farm can get underway.
“Let’s not forget Allegany County is surrounded on three sides by commercial wind farms, with windmills no more than two miles from our borders in three directions, including one 738 feet away in Somerset County, Pennsylvania,” said Shade.
There are a total of 297 wind turbines, according to Shade, operating in three surrounding counties which are, “generating energy, local jobs, and most importantly tax revenues each day.”
He said, “Garrett County brought in $3.257 million in tax revenues this fiscal year from their wind projects. Our neighboring counties are realizing real revenues due to the development of wind energy without any loss of home values.”
The project has been opposed by the Allegany Neighbors and Citizens for Home Owners Rights Limited. The citizens’ group has been active in holding public meetings on the project. The latest meeting was held in Frostburg on Jan. 14 and was attended by roughly 70 people.
The opponents argue that the turbines create excessive noise pollution, light flicker and destruction of neighborhood views. They also fear the turbines, which are nearly 500 feet in height, will negatively impact property values.
Darlene Park, president of ANCHOR, said the revenues the county projects may not be to the level they expect.
“The money is not guaranteed,” said Park in a Times-News interview Friday. “The money decreases over time; it will be depleted after 10 years.”
Ed Giugliano, a Bel Air resident who serves on the ANCHOR board, spoke during the public input portion of Thursday’s county meeting.
“We are concerned that there has been no attempt at community outreach by Dan’s Mountain Wind Force regarding construction of this project,” said Giugliano. “People have a lot of questions about the effect of this project on their homes and their lives and one of the biggest concerns is the potential noise pollution caused by wind turbines.”
Giugliano said he worked for a power generating company in the past and it “would have been a cardinal sin” not to hold public meetings and reach out to residents concerning a project impacting a community. Shade said he would look into arranging a meeting with Dan’s Mountain Wind Force and the residents.
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.