Ocean City Today

Honest discussion absent from OC council hearing

Readers' Forum
Feb 08, 2018



printed 02/09/2018



As a citizen concerned about environmental stewardship and as the pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Ocean City, I attended the recent meeting of the Ocean City Town Council with other thoughtful and informed members of our congregation.

To say that the meeting was disheartening and dispiriting is a huge understatement. We attended the meeting with the intention of offering public input regarding the council’s resolution to oppose off shore wind projects.

Upon reading both the resolution itself, as well as a study commissioned by the Council, it became apparent that our elected leaders had no interest in engaging in an honest discussion regarding this important issue.

The resolution contained inaccuracies, which, if unknown by the council are inexcusable, and if known by the council were disingenuous. Furthermore, they cited a survey that claimed 55 percent of potential beachfront condo renters might be deterred from doing so, based upon the sight of turbines offshore.

What they failed to mention, however, is that the photos shown to potential renters were of turbines located two miles offshore, whereas the turbines currently proposed would be located 17 miles offshore.

Perhaps most disturbing was the tone in which local citizens were addressed by the council. Councilman Gehrig was particularly condescending toward the gathered assembly, leaving many attendees feeling as if they had just received a stern “lecturing.”

Mayor Meehan stated that he and members of the City Council had not been invited to offer their input to the state and federal processes, despite the fact that he had actually attended a meeting on this issue at Stephen Decatur High School last year.

The major argument offered by council members for opposing the offshore wind project, however, was their concern for beachfront property owners, who obviously represent the wealthiest of Ocean City property owners.

But what about the less well-to-do property owners who may not be able to afford beachfront property? Do their voices not also matter? In addition, council members continually [and] repeatedly mentioned the visual pollution of offshore turbines, one might ask how that compares to the beachside visual annoyances produced by advertising airplanes and floating electronic billboards on boats within a few hundred yards of the beach.

As a Lutheran pastor, our denomination has a strong history of environmental advocacy and sustainability and care for creation. The congregation I am privileged to serve installed solar panels three years ago in order to demonstrate our commitment to care for creation.

Despite the Ocean City Council members’ repeated statements designed to convince the gathered citizens that they are totally supportive of green energy, the fact is that actions speak louder than words. To date, their actions are at best questionable, and their willingness to engage their local constituents in an honest public dialogue is severely lacking.

The Rev. Gregg Knepp, Sr. Pastor

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church,

Ocean City

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