Somerset County

creative commons

Last night a Somerset County Planning and Zoning hearing got an earful about concerns over the increasing number of chicken houses in the region.

WBOC reports that residents from Princess Anne called on the county commissioners to deal with issues ranging from noise and pollution to traffic and smells among other things.

A number of residents complained that they have been overrun by the chicken houses endangering their property values.

State Senator Jim Mathias says he’d like to see a third span across the Chesapeake Bay.

During a recent meeting in Wicomico County the Maryland Democrat said that he believes this would ease the congestion on the current two spans.

WBOC found that Maryland state officials say that last year around 25.6 million cars crossed the bridge last year.

There was a proposal for a ferry to cross the bay with a landing cite in Crisfield

But that was scrapped after a study of project.

elizabeth prata / creative commons

The increasing number of factory chicken houses brought out around fifty people to a town hall meeting in Somerset County this week.

It was aimed at drumming up support for local regulations that would ensure neighbors and agricultural workers are not negatively impacted by these large operations.

Organizers said there have been some 70 new poultry houses that have been given permits in the county.

Kathy Phillips with the Assateague Coastkeeper told the gathering that poultry production has moved away from mom-and-pop operations.

creative commons

Existing home sales in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties have gone up by nearly 14 percent.

That’s during the first 5 months of 2015 compared with the same period last year.

The Salisbury Daily Times analysis also found that they have risen by nearly 40 percent since 2011 according to stats form the Coastal Association of Realtors.

The paper reports that biggest hurdle is that prices have still been low with a typical house selling for around $147-thousand compared to $161-thousand five years ago.

creative commons

Maryland’s mosquito eradication efforts begin today with aerial spraying operations in Dorchester, Somerset and Worcester counties.

They will hit flooded woodland and fresh water areas to destroy the larvae.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the white aircraft with red and blue strips will fly around 250 feet above the land.

There are around 28-hundred acres of woodland in Dorchester County near Cambridge and another 900 acres of woodland in Somerset County around Dames Quarter and Fairmont.

creative commons

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - A Texas energy company says it's shelving plans for a wind farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore amid opposition from state and federal lawmakers concerned about protecting jobs at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station across the Chesapeake Bay.
Pioneer Green Energy wrote to the Somerset County Commissioners last month that it was indefinitely suspending the project due to "unanticipated hurdles and roadblocks." Vice President Adam Cohen cited U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski's efforts to stall the project pending further study.

Somerset County has committed half of the $8.6 million in Sandy Relief money to a number of projects including 11 new homes that could cost close to $2 million to construct.

Another $1.1 million has been earmarked for a study of public housing that saw severe flooding during the 2010 storm.

Somerset County director of planning Gary Pusey said the county is focusing on the county’s purchase of three houses, some $3.2 million slated for home rehabs and $1 million for the county’s Economic Development Commission.

The grant expires in July.

Tom Corser / creative commons

The Somerset County Planning and Zoning Commission has just approved the regulations that could pave the way for a major wind farm project.

It now goes to the County Commissioners for final approval.

The 3-to-1 vote gave the green light for the turbines to be 575 feet, that is, 175 feet higher than the previously agreed to.

The approval brings Pioneer Green Energy one step closer to building its 25 wind-turbine farm that would spread across thousands of acres between Marion Station and Westover in southern Somerset County.

clean energy council

Nearly 200 people crammed into the Princess Anne civic Center with most being critical of the proposed wind farm in Somerset County.

Harvey Kagan from the Westover area said the areas where wind turbines had been built the property values went down.

He said nobody wants to buy property that is within 1500 feet of a turbine because of the noise.

Pioneer Green Energy says it plans to move forward with a wind turbine project in Somerset County despite its objections to certain restrictions in recommendations proposed by the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Planning Commission has decided to accept an extension to allow more time for reviewing and revising the draft ordinance.

The $273 million project would place 25 wind turbines in Westover.

Planning Commissioner Gary Pusey said that the current draft that involves the 400 foot turbines would be set back by at least 1-thousand feet.

creative commons

Pioneer Green says new recommendations to tighten restrictions on wind turbines would end plans for a wind farm in Somerset County.

This warning comes after the governor vetoed a bill in Annapolis that would have delayed construction for over a year so that a study could be conducted on the impact of the turbines on the radar at the military installation on the Patuxent River.

By a majority vote the Somerset County Planning and Zoning Commission decided to lower the nighttime maximum noise level to 40 decibels, that is 15 decibels below the Maryland standard of 55.

The Federal Emergency Management agency is investigating 45-hundred households that it says may have received overpayments  in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

After hurricane Sandy hit FEMA sent out some $1.4 billion in aid to residents along the East Coast – especially in New York and New Jersey.

In Maryland Somerset County residents were hit the hardest.

And many are now just getting their homes rebuilt.

Tina Throne, a Somerset County resident, told WBOC that she was surprised to hear some people may have to pay money back.

creative commons

The Pioneer Green Energy wind farm project will take center stage over the next two weeks as the Somerset County Planning Commission reviews an ordinance drawn up two and half years ago for regulating wind energy.

Planning director Gary Pusey says the commissioners want to see if the ordinance is still appropriate for the project.

Among other issues is a provision that requires each turbine to be reviewed by the county’s Board of zoning Appeals.

official photo

Maryland lawmakers, environmental groups and wind energy advocates called on Senator Barbara Mikulski to pull non-binding language in the Defense spending bill that would delay the wind turbine project in Somerset County.

The provision calls on the Navy not to sign onto any agreement to develop the wind farms until the second phase of an MIT study is completed on the impact of the turbines on the Naval Air Station on the Patuxent River.

Don Rush

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (AP) - Education officials say starting with the first of day school, all students in Somerset County will receive free breakfast and lunch, regardless of household income.

The Board of Education says 72 percent of students already qualified for free or reduced-price meals. That statistic helped the county qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision.

Schools spokesman Leo Lawson tells The Daily Times of Salisbury that the program puts students on an equal playing field and removes the stigma of poverty.

family photo

Maryland State Police are searching for Tanisha White who was last seen in the Salisbury last Wednesday.

The teenager from Somerset County was wearing a black T-shirt, camouflage leggings and brown boots.

She also had her brown backpack that also had a T-shirt and black leggings.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that her mother told police her daughter has been missing since July 26th.

She said her daughter has been known to runaway but usually comes back within a day.


creative commons

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A proposal to build a wind farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River could still be delayed until a study is complete, despite Gov. Martin O'Malley's veto of a bill that would have created a similar delay.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski has included an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would require the Navy-commissioned study to be completed to further evaluate how radar use at the base could be affected by the wind turbines.

Motorists on the Eastern Shore should get ready for work on five bridges in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties beginning this Friday.

Work crews will be setting up this weekend for cleaning and painting the bridges.

The Maryland State Highway Administration says it does not anticipate any lane closures or detours but says the staging areas for the maintenance will be set up on the shoulders for each bridge.

Another five bridges will be cleaned and painted later this year for a total cost of just over a million dollars.


There’s another hurdle for the Great Bay Wind Energy project in Somerset County.

The wind turbine effort still has to get approval from the County Commissioners before it gets underway.

In the last legislative session Governor Martin O’Malley vetoed a measure that would have delayed the project for over a year.

After meeting with the county commissioner last Tuesday Commissioner Charles Fisher told WBOC that the board needed more time to come up with an ordinance.

With temperatures still reaching into the 90’s Somerset County has opened up some cooling stations.

The Princess Anne Library and the Crisfield Library will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m.

The Somerset Senior Services Center will be open through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And the Woodrow Wilson Community Center will also be open through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.      


Delmarvans Stay Cool


creative commons

Fruitland Police Chief Michael Phillips has been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol and driving while impaired after he was stopped in Somerset County.

The County Sheriff’s Office says that Phillips was released after being taken into custody Sunday on alcohol-related violation.

Phillip’s attorney John Phoebus told the Salisbury Daily Times that the police chief has asked the Fruitland City Council to put him on paid administrative leave until the charges are resolved which the council did.

Don Rush

There will be no property tax hike for Somerset County residents.

But the 2015 $36.2 million budget will be spending $708-thousand less than the current year because of a fall in tax revenues and fewer grant awards for capital improvements.

The biggest chunk -- $11.2 million -- will go toward education.

Another $6.9 million will pay for public safety.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that instead of raising taxes the budget draws $3.7 million from its reserves to offset the decline in revenues.

official photo

Maryland state Comptroller Peter Franchot says Governor Martin O’Malley should veto legislation that would delay the construction of the wind turbine project in Somerset County by more than a year.

Franchot said the delay would have a profound impact on the local economy of one of the poorest counties in the state.

He pointed to more than 500 construction jobs, $44 million in tax revenues and $200 million in revenue from new investment.

creative commons

All eyes now turn to Governor Martin O'Malley as to whether he will veto the a measure that would delay the wind farm project in Somerset County by another year. Supporters of the project say this would effectively kill it, but opponents say the delay is needed to assess the impact of the wind turbines on the radar at the U.S. Naval Air Station on the Patuxent River. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush examines the conflict with Jennifer Shutt, who has been covering the legislative session in Annapolis for the Salisbury Daily Times.

creative commons

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Martin O'Malley says he still has misgivings about a bill to set a 13-month moratorium on the development of tall wind turbines within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River base in southern Maryland.

O'Malley wouldn't say Monday if he would veto legislation that has been sent to his desk. But the governor, who is a strong supporter of wind energy, says, "I have yet to conclude that windmills are quite the threat to Naval air radar that those advocating for this ban have concluded."

A measure that would delay a wind turbine project in Somerset County by 15 months has made it out of the Senate Finance Committee.

The delay would allow for the results of a $2 million study on the impact of the project on radar at U.S. Naval Air Station on the Patuxent River.

In addition, the measure would limit the height of wind turbines at varying distances at varying distances from the naval base.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that Eastern Shore Democrat Jim Mathias voted no saying the issues could be dealt with through existing state and federal laws.

Legislation to delay the wind project in Somerset County could face a veto by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley as the state Senate prepares to take up the bill next week.

That's according to Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network during a teleconference with reporters yesterday.

"We don’t expect the bill to get to his desk to begin with, but if it does one would assume he being a vigorous opponent of the bill would be facing the prospect of a possible veto."

There could be a delay in putting up those wind turbines in Somerset County.

Representatives from the southern Maryland delegation in Annapolis told a committee hearing yesterday they were concerned the wind mills could cost jobs around the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

The House measure would prevent the state from approving the wind turbines that exceed a range of heights within the Atlantic Test Range used by the naval base.

The legislation would suspend construction of the 70 megawatt Great Bay wind project in Somerset County.

A settlement could be in the offing within the next 45 days between Somerset county Sheriff’s Deputy James Troy Durham and County Sheriff Robert Jones and other county officials.

The Local Government Insurance Trust which represents the County Commissioners has asked the judge for a postponement to give both sides a chance to negotiate a deal.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the reason for the 45-day time frame is because the County Commissioners only meet once a week.

Durham was fired and then reinstated and is now seeking back pay and benefits.


At 7 p.m. tonight Asbury United Methodist Church in Crisfield will be holding services in the wake of the death of Brad Mason who was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Marion Station. 

Mason was this year’s Crisfield High School valedictorian and headed to the University of Maryland College Park this fall to study engineering.

He also served as a student member of the Somerset county Board of Education for the last two years.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the accident but provided no further details.