Zoning/Planning and Pennsylvania
Citizens fill every seat Thursday in the Commissioners Board Room as Lycoming County Commissioners vote on zoning changes for proposed wind farms.
Depending on your point of view, an amendment to the county zoning ordinance pertaining to wind energy is a step toward energy independence or a threat to the preservation of the county's wilderness and scenic beauty.
The Lycoming County commissioners Thursday unanimously approved the amendment, which will allow electricity-generating wind turbines by right in resource protection, countryside and agricultural zoning districts.
The Lycoming County commissioners will reveal Thursday where they stand regarding a proposed amendment to the county zoning ordinance as it pertains to wind energy.
During a work session Tuesday, chief county administrator Fred Marty said the commissioners will act on the amendment to allow electricity-generating wind turbines by right in areas zoned for resource protection. ...
Commissioner Dick Nassberg said he does not know how he will vote and will "continue to study facts and language to make sure we come up with the best balance of competing interests."
"This is a complex issue," Nassberg said. "You have to balance needs for progress against needs for preservation."
About 30 wind turbines will be coming to the hills over Dunlo after Adams Township supervisors approved the Krayn Wind Corp.'s request for the Highland Wind Farm.
The approval Tuesday at the supervisors' regular meeting followed a final public hearing on Krayn's conditional use application under the township's zoning ordinance. ...The quiet meeting was in contrast to the first Sept. 17 hearing - when a line of residents spoke of their concerns about the wind farm.
Most expressed concerns about reduced values for their property near the proposed turbines, but Barbin noted the supervisors only can apply the existing regulations on the project.
The borough is advancing its exploration of energy options.
The Pine Grove Township Zoning Hearing Board gave approval Monday night for erection of a 197-foot wind monitoring tower, on 216 acres of Pine Grove borough property, to gather data to determine if the area would be a good location for a wind farm.
Gamesa Energy USA, Philadelphia, will construct the tower on a site located above the borough's well field in the Black Creek Valley north of Second Mountain.
A noisy rotor problem on some turbines in the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm was described Tuesday as "minor," and localized to just some of the 40 turbines at the Cambria-Blair county farm.
"We have been working with Babcock & Brown and we have a schedule set up for repair," said Ellen Lutz, Gamesa Inc.'s director of development for the Atlantic Region. ...But residents - including Myrle Baum - are not optimistic. Baum said at times the operating windmills sound like a jet going over his house. ...A sound study done by the residents shows times when the turbines were producing levels topping 70 decibels.
Tyrone Borough Council will not vote at the Tuesday, November 13 council meeting on whether or not the borough will allow Gamesa Energy USA (Gamesa) to lease property on its watershed on Ice Mountain, to place a proposed 10-15 windmills.
Mayor James Kilmartin and the rest of borough council are urging Gamesa to hold another public meeting that council will attend in order to hear the community out.
"This is a very significant decision that will have long lasting effects," said the mayor. "Almost all council members and borough supervisors have gone to Blue Knob to see the windfarms first hand. We do not take this lightly, we have been researching this for a year now."
The fate of a proposed amendment to the county zoning ordinance as it pertains to wind energy is in the hands of the Lycoming County commissioners, who will vote on the amendment on Nov. 15.
The commissioners Monday hosted a public hearing at Pennsylvania College of Technology to hear comments about the amendment, which, if approved, would allow commercial electricity-generating wind turbines by right in resource protection, agriculture and countryside zoning districts.
Council members Thursday voted 3-1 to adopt an ordinance to restrict the use of windmill turbines, big and small, to get "some degree of regulation on the books" before requests come in.
The ordinance establishes restrictive regulations both for commercial wind energy facilities - with towers 300 feet or higher and huge turbine blades - and for small turbines that generate 60 kilowatts or less primarily drawn by the property on which it is located.
"I would not want Mount Nittany to have wind turbines on top of it," councilman Daniel Klees said. "I look at this as being a starting point. I'm confident about being a little more restrictive now because we haven't had a request."
Those speaking Monday during a public hearing regarding a proposed change to Lycoming County's zoning ordinance as it pertains to wind energy will have to follow conduct guidelines.
On Thursday, the Lycoming County commissioners adopted the new rules. ...If approved, the [zoning] amendment would allow commercial electricity-generating wind turbines in resource protection, countryside and agricultural zoning districts by right.
After more than an hour of public testimony - most of it opposed to the proposed AES wind farm project in Tioga and Bradford counties - the Tioga County Planning Commission tabled any action, pending further review. AES's application to build 124 wind turbines on more than 10,000 acres of leased private property on top of Armenia Mountain has been submitted to the commission, but because it is "incomplete," Tioga County Planner Jim Weaver recommended to the board that it be tabled to give AES more time to get the required documentation.
Commonwealth Court cleared the way Friday for part of a wind farm in Bear Creek Township, but the alternative-energy project remains on hold until the state Supreme Court rules on the other part of the plan.
Senior Judge Joseph McCloskey upheld orders by Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan and the Bear Creek Township Zoning Hearing Board, allowing nine out of 35 wind turbines proposed for Energy Unlimited Inc.'s Penobscot Mountain wind farm.
COUDERSPORT — Potter County Planning Commission members took steps to regulate the construction of wind turbines in the county Tuesday night during a lengthy meeting.
After hearing arguments from supporters and critics of the wind energy industry, planning commission members passed an ordinance that would require that turbines be located a distance of at least seven times their height from adjacent properties.
There was more talk about a possible wind farm of 10-15 windmills on property owned by the borough on Ice Mountain. Josh Framel, from Gamesa Energy USA (Gamesa), and Mr. Dennis Beck, Manager of the Portage Water Authority and their forester, Mike Barton, gave a power point presentation of the wind farm on the Portage watershed to show the environmental friendly aspects of the project.
Mayor James Kilmartin and the rest of council decided they would need more time to make a decision on whether or not the borough would be interested in moving forward with the possible wind farm project with Gamesa.
Portage Township supervisors have adopted a residential wind turbine ordinance, a first in Cambria and Somerset counties.
The Portage Township ordinance adopted last week restricts the number of turbines to one per parcel and spells out minimum setbacks. It also regulates the maximum noise levels that may be generated by turbines and establishes a permit fee.
The ordinance sets minimum standards for setbacks from various features, application requirements, including environmental analyses and damage mitigation plans, and ensures money will exist to remove the turbines when the permits expire.
The turbines must be at least: • 2,000 feet from any school, hospital, church or public library. • 500 feet from occupied buildings and property lines. • Five times the "hub height" from occupied buildings owned by anyone not involved in the wind park project. Hub height is defined as the distance from the ground to the top of the turbine base. • 1.1 times the "turbine height" from public roads. Turbine height is defined as the hub height, plus the distance to the highest point a turbine blade reaches.
Supervisors on Tuesday approved an ordinance that regulates wind turbine facilities.
In May, supervisors tabled taking action on a proposed wind turbine ordinance after BP Alternative Energy expressed concerns.
The company has said that it intends to build a facility that could have 30-90 ... Supervisor Thomas Nalbone Jr. also said that he is pleased with the ordinance, which would allow the township to monitor a wind turbine facility project.
If, as Jon Grisham predicts, energy costs rise in the coming years, adding the turbine will save the family money. That's all assuming the family stays in the house for another couple of decades.
"Technology that cost about $60,000 10 years ago costs about [$15,000] to $18,000 all of a sudden," he said. "It's worth a home equity loan for the investment."
Marguerite Woelfel, a valley resident who used to sell wind turbines in California, said the ordinance tilted slightly in favor in companies that helped draft it. She suggested sharpening language in the ordinance, which the supervisors tabled so they can study her recommendations. ... Asked by Supervisor Robert Shelhamer if she favored or opposed wind turbines, Woelfel said she thinks the machines have their place. But she believes they are overrated as a way to break America's dependence on foreign oil because of their cost and life expectancy, which is 25 years.
Members of the Potter County Planning Commission (PCPC) this week began work on an ordinance to control development of industrial wind turbines.
They also heard impassioned pleas for protection from citizens who live near some of the sites where the 410-foothigh structures would be located.
The commissioners will consider whether to accept a recommendation by the county Planning Commission to allow commercial wind farm development by right in resource protection, agricultural and countryside districts.
The current ordinance allows wind farm development in agricultural and countryside districts by right, and in resource protection districts by a special exception permit issued by the county Zoning Hearing Board.