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Land use ordinance infringes on property rights

Cumberland Times-News

Dear Sirs:

I am a business owner and a Garrett County land owner. My quarry is located off Avilton-Lonaconing Road. My family has been in this business for generations providing all types of stones for schools, churches, playgrounds, home as well as gravel for road construction.

I have attended various meetings at the courthouse, and I must say that I failed to understand any sound reasoning behind the massive regulations that you have proposed.

The issue relating to windmills is on two pages; what about the other 83 pages of regulations? Who asked for these regulations and curbs on our property rights?

This is a fact that Garrett County is a poor county. It is no richer than when my dad was running our family quarry.

No new major construction is happening; no manufacturers are moving into our area, the county has no major development works planned. The only possibility is wind development and maybe gas drilling. The setback that you have proposed will kill any wind development in Garrett County just like it did in Allegany County.

The two operating wind projects on Backbone Mountain are paying about $1.9 million in personal property taxes in addition to $700,000 in real property taxes for year 2012. This revenue stream will continue for the next 30 years.

Additional wind development projects are proposed in Garrett County that could bring over $3 million a year in addition tax revenues per year. These wind projects will bring much needed construction jobs and the developers will be pumping millions into the local economy.

No wonder, in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, counties and boroughs are encouraging wind development.

In the previous commissioners’ meeting, I asked the question: Is there anything wrong with the operating wind mills that require you to ask for these setbacks? I did not get the answer from the commissioners.

We all heard the Clipper representative saying that most of Backbone mountain wind turbines would have been eliminated with your proposed setbacks.

Like the Backbone experience, why can’t we have the wind developers follow the prudent wind industry practices and work with neighboring property owners and follow the state safety and noises regulations?

From properties it is turbine height plus 10 feet, which is about 500 feet. From occupied structure it is about 1,000 feet. Why can we let the wind companies follow it as they did for the Backbone projects?

The remaining 83 pages of the land use ordinance draft is all an infringement on my property rights. I have a right to develop my property as I choose.

If windmills can be considered on my lands, I will embrace it besides providing gravel, stones and services for these projects. I fully support for construction work and jobs for our county residents. My neighbors will benefit too from the economic activities in the area and with additional taxes the county can continue functioning without eliminating of services and closing of schools.

I vote for total rejection and elimination of the proposed Land Use Management Ordinance — county wide zoning.

Jeremy Preston

Lonaconing

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