"Safe for Somerset" Wants Commissioners to Deny Approval of Prop - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

"Safe for Somerset" Wants Commissioners to Deny Approval of Proposed Wind Turbine Project

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(Courtesy: Safe for Somerset) (Courtesy: Safe for Somerset)
 PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- It is the project that keeps going 'round. Texas-based company Pioneer Green is looking to bring more than 25 turbines between 400 and 700 feet tall to the Somerset County area. The height isn't the only concern for "Safe for Somerset," a group of people who want county commissioners to deny plans for the wind project.

The local group wants commissioners to block the project, because of health and safety concerns, threats to national security and new evidence of what they claim are possible ethics violations by elected officials considering approval of the project.

Harvey Kagan is a licensed professional engineer who owns property close to where the turbines would go. His concerns about the project go beyond just noise or the effect on property values.

"Catastrophic failures, concerns we have with family and business relationships between lease holders and the impact, the environmental and cultural impact, and also the economics of the project," said Kagan.

Wednesday's presentation included medical research linking wind turbines to sleeplessness, unsteadiness, headaches and nausea, as well as examples of failures of wind turbines in other communities. Kagan referenced other areas where similar projects were blocked and to Oklahoma, where a group of residents filed a class action lawsuit against a wind energy company because of health concerns and possible effects on their property values.

Paul Harris, the development manager for Pioneer Green's Somerset County project, argues there are no health effects. He mentioned more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies that dispel health concerns related to turbines and other studies that suggest turbines have no impact on property values.

The issue is still one of much debate. Kagan says there is a lot of support against the project.

"We've had a petition we've been circulating, we have, I don't know how many exactly but several hundred maybe two, three, four hundred people or more," said Kagan.

The people of Somerset County have been very vocal, but County Comissioners decline to comment on the issue at this time.

Harris says the additional investment would prevent the county from having to raise property taxes. A study by the University of Baltimore, Jacob France Institute states if passed, a project of this nature could bring $44.4 million dollars to the county over its course.

Some property owners believe Somerset County is not the spot.

"I would like to see the commissioners vote to eliminate this project and in the future not entertain any undesirable business or industry at all," said Ron Declement, member of Safe for Somerset.

One property owner says he is in support of the project because he will receive $5,000 if wind turbines are placed near his home in Westover. As of right now, the county wind ordinance is in limbo, due to information brought up at a past meeting. 
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