Once again a large number of residents showed up at the Penn Forest Township supervisors’ meeting Monday night to continue to press the supervisors to act on a new wind turbine ordinance.
“This is month 19 and I will just keep coming back, month after month,” said Marcus Lawrence, a resident and strong opponent of the Atlantic Wind project.
The township is dealing with the wind turbine issue on two fronts. There are two current permit applications in play for Atlantic Wind. One is already “deemed approved” and before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas.
The second application for a special exception permit to build 28 turbines is before the township’s zoning hearing board.
The second front is that the township is in the process of revising the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance to amend the section that currently permits wind turbines to be located in a residential district.
Lawrence approached the township 19 months ago and requested that the ordinance be revised. He proposed changes to the township. The revisions would change where wind projects could be located within the township, along with other requirements and restrictions.
The current applications are permits for land owned by the Bethlehem Water Authority. The majority of the land in question is zoned R1, residential. The revisions proposed by Lawrence would move wind turbines to land zoned as industrial or light industrial.
The township held a public meeting earlier this year to discuss the proposed changes, which were recommended by the engineer hired by the township, but it was clear from the responses received during and following the meeting that the township had missed the mark with its first draft.
The township has since hired engineer Richard B. Kresge to advise it on matters related to the wind turbine project and the revised ordinance.
On Monday evening, township Chairman Warren Reiner took a few minutes to address those present.
“I just want to say a few things,” Reiner said. “This board is here to help everybody. We are not out to hurt anyone. We live in this town, we have families here, children, grandchildren, all of whom live here.
“We hear people saying we are not with the people of the township. That’s just not true. This board does a lot. We have a beautiful park, you take your garbage to a transfer station for $50 a year, we have no local taxes. No one comes in and says ‘thank you’ for that,” Reiner said.
“People are saying we aren’t doing anything. We are, but we just can’t move real fast, it just doesn’t work like that.”
Supervisor Scott Lignore followed up by adding that the new revised ordinance would be available for review before the end of the week and that he hoped that the residents would be happier with it than the last attempt.
The ordinance should be available on the township website and available for pickup at the township building by Friday.
The township will advertise a public hearing to be held sometime during the following week.
Resident Judy Salvi last month blasted the supervisors for their lack of support and for not being more involved in what has been going on with the hearing board. This month she apologized for her comments, but was just as passionate about the issue.
“I do apologize for what I said at the last meeting,” she said. “But I want to know if you are educating yourselves on the effects of wind turbines? Are you reading the literature? You should be coming to the hearings and listening to what is said.”