Library from Pennsylvania
A hearing over whether a wind farm will be built on Bethlehem's watershed has been put on hold after alleged threats, including to the family of a turbine company official.
PENN FOREST TWP., Pa. - Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, Zoning Hearing Board was told Thursday evening by a retired medical doctor the wind turbine project proposed by Iberdrole Renewable would adversely affect the health of those who live near the proposed project.
The case has already had three nights of hearings. At this point, attorneys representing the Penn Forest residents are making the case that the project would harm the health and welfare of the people who live nearby and significantly impact the environment.
In 2015, more than 60 governmental entities in 22 states moved to reject or restrict wind-energy developments with a total capacity of some 3,100 megawatts. During the first six months of 2016, more than 40 governmental entities in 18 states have rejected or moved to restrict the installation of wind energy facilities having a total capacity of more than 2,400 megawatts.
For Tammy McKenzie and her husband, life has not been the same since a farm of wind turbines went up near their home in Somerset County. ..."We're in a lose-lose situation. No person sitting here tonight should have to lose the comfort of their house as I have lost the comfort of my house," McKenzie testified to the board and crowd of more than 300 people.
Thursday's meeting centered on the testimony of McKenzie and Pamela Dodds, a hydrogeologist who said Atlantic Wind's project could do lasting damage to the soil and watershed it would build the turbines on. The meeting was as raucous as the ones that preceded it.
Dahlkemper is on the board of directors of the wind developer, LEEDCo, which is a real conflict of interest with her duties as county executive of Erie County.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's flier says the company behind the project – Iberdrola Renewables – stands to get up to $3 million a year in federal subsidies, and that Toomey has fought to end them for “inefficient, unwanted wind farms.”
The emotions were generated by a proposal for a 37-turbine farm that would sprawl across as many as 266 acres north and south of Hatchery Road in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County. The land is owned by the Bethlehem Authority, the financial arm of the city's water business, and would come within less than a mile of several homes.
Nicole Nothstein, administrative secretary for the authority, said members were against the location on a watershed, not the alternative energy source. She said the vote reflected board members' intention to protect the watershed.
The Lehighton Water Authority has rejected an offer from a renewable energy company to develop on their land. Three of those 40 turbines are gone with the wind.
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Some residents are worried about the environment, noise, property values, and what would happen to their thriving tourism industry.
Nearby residents, including a few living within a half-mile of the project, have petitioned the zoners to turn down the company's request for a special exception, based on the health, welfare and safety of the community.
“We are standing together and vowing to fight this with every resource that we can muster,” Orlandini said. “The township has tried to keep this under wraps and are now seeing how strong the people of the Poconos can be when we stand up for something we believe in.
“We are organizing our community against this project,” said Hank Orlandini. “We hike and hunt this ridge. This isn’t green energy, it takes oil to run turbines. We are going to fight this, and we are asking you to stand behind your residents.” Many others spoke and each person who did was applauded by those who listened to them.
"I think they're going to destroy a beautiful place up there. It's gorgeous up there. There's birds that are going to be affected. There's animals' habitats that are going to be affected, and it's going to ruin a beautiful place,” said Andrea Miller, a Beltzville Lakes Estates resident. Penn Forest Township supervisors heard an earful at their meeting Monday night.
“Some individuals have expressed concern to the county about the potential impact of this project on the Cherry Springs State Park international sky preserve, as well as the potential impact of forest fragmentation created by the clearing of roughly 200 acres for construction,” Heimel said. “These concerns should be voiced to Hector Township, which may be in a position to affect the development.”
Should Towamencin establish rules regulating wind energy systems, and the types that can be installed on homes within the township? That topic has been discussed by the township’s planning commission in recent months, and was the subject of lengthy talks by the township supervisors Wednesday.
In his ruling, issued Nov. 18, Judge William H. Amesbury wrote that the court “finds neither an abuse of discretion nor error of law” by the zoning hearing board in its denial of the special exception permit. EDF applied for the special exception in January 2014 to allow a wind farm with turbines, associated roads, cables and a substation.