OC Wind Turbine Bill Stalls

OCEAN CITY – The option to install small wind turbines has come to a stand still again.

Since 2009, the town of Ocean City has been approached on several occasions to pass an ordinance regulating the placement of small wind energy systems to be placed on waterfront properties.

On April 20, 2009, the Mayor and Council passed an ordinance amending the zoning code to allow small wind turbines under conditional zoning regulations. One of the conditions requires a setback of 1.1 times the height of the turbine from all adjacent property lines, public right-of-way and public utility lines.

Jim Motsko has applied to install a small wind turbine on his waterfront property. The state of Maryland is one of the adjacent property owners of the applicant, being that the land under water is owned by the state.

The state corresponded that there is no need for a license or permit, but the state is unable to grant an easement to allow the construction of the turbine.

City Solicitor Guy Ayres responded that the state’s correspondence is not sufficient enough to overcome the requirement for an easement.

The situation left the Planning Commission and Mayor and City Council with the option of re-wording the ordinance.

The proposed amendment is to “allow a turbine on the waterfront to adhere to the same setback from the water as required for a building. Approval would still be by conditional use, subject to public hearing and final approval by the Mayor and City Council” … or, “provide a variance or special exception process by which the Board of Zoning Appeals would conduct a public hearing and make a determination on the case.”

Councilman Joe Hall made a motion to accept the language of the second option recommended and Lloyd Martin second his motion.

Councilwoman Mary Knight being a waterfront property owner said she has many objections with the ordinance and sustained from the vote.

Council President Jim Hall, who also lives on the bay, went on record to vote against the motion. “I would be livid if one of my neighbors erected one of these things [turbine] because I pride myself on a view of north and south,” Jim Hall said.

Motsko’s attorney, Joseph Moore, reminded the council that this amendment would allow the council to consider the installation of a small wind turbine, not grant permission.

The vote resulted in a vote of 3-3, with Council members Brent Ashley, Jim Hall and Margaret Pillas, in opposition.