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Butler Twp. to address wind turbine issues

A public informational meeting will be held Wednesday at the Butler Township Municipal Building for input into amending the township zoning ordinance to address wind turbine issues. The meeting, slated from 6 to 8 p.m., was announced at last week's meeting of the Butler Township Board of Supervisors by Chairman Kevin Kowalick, a Republican-Herald employee. The decision to amend the zoning ordinance was spurred by the plans of Broad Mountain Development Co. LLC to construct 27 wind turbines, or windmills, in the Fountain Springs area.

FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - A public informational meeting will be held Wednesday at the Butler Township Municipal Building for input into amending the township zoning ordinance to address wind turbine issues.

The meeting, slated from 6 to 8 p.m., was announced at last week's meeting of the Butler Township Board of Supervisors by Chairman Kevin Kowalick, a Republican-Herald employee.

The decision to amend the zoning ordinance was spurred by the plans of Broad Mountain Development Co. LLC to construct 27 wind turbines, or windmills, in the Fountain Springs area. As it stands, the ordinance has no mention of wind turbines and their regulation in the township. The company has challenged the validity on that basis before the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board, which plans to hear arguments on the challenge at its Oct. 21 meeting.

"We're encouraging you to come prepared to give an efficient presentation about certain things that you feel are necessary in a windmill ordinance to protect the health and safety of township residents," township solicitor Christopher Riedlinger said.

He said that facts, not opinions, should be presented.

"What we're not looking for, and can't be looking... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - A public informational meeting will be held Wednesday at the Butler Township Municipal Building for input into amending the township zoning ordinance to address wind turbine issues.

The meeting, slated from 6 to 8 p.m., was announced at last week's meeting of the Butler Township Board of Supervisors by Chairman Kevin Kowalick, a Republican-Herald employee.

The decision to amend the zoning ordinance was spurred by the plans of Broad Mountain Development Co. LLC to construct 27 wind turbines, or windmills, in the Fountain Springs area. As it stands, the ordinance has no mention of wind turbines and their regulation in the township. The company has challenged the validity on that basis before the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board, which plans to hear arguments on the challenge at its Oct. 21 meeting.

"We're encouraging you to come prepared to give an efficient presentation about certain things that you feel are necessary in a windmill ordinance to protect the health and safety of township residents," township solicitor Christopher Riedlinger said.

He said that facts, not opinions, should be presented.

"What we're not looking for, and can't be looking for, is personal opinions," said Riedlinger. "If we're going to add things to an ordinance, we're going to need things that could withstand a potential court challenge. As such, we're going to need to put in things because people want them in there, but we're going to need information because it's necessary to protect health and safety."

Riedlinger said information such as height restrictions, decibel levels or distance for setback that could be presented would need to be backed up by studies done by medical professionals, state agencies or other official sources.

Township resident Dennis Malarkey asked Riedlinger about an aspect that is not measurable.

"My concern is not something that I can bring in the form of evidence," said Malarkey. "When the original zoning map was drawn up, certain districts in the township were designated woodland-conservation, which is for the good of the township. Those areas were picked because they were inaccessible for building development and were being preserved for beauty. So how I can bring in evidence to that effect at that meeting?

"The reason I live in Butler Township is not because of the industry here or that there are a lot of job opportunities. I'm here because it is a beautiful place to live," Malarkey said.

Malarkey said taking a four-mile stretch of land and placing wind turbines on it turns into an industrial zone.

Riedlinger said he understood Malarkey's position, but added that there are other factors that must be dealt with that would be considered by a court judge. Riedlinger said the zoning ordinance, as it stands, mentions nothing about wind turbines, and while there is always a chance a court would favor township officials' position and not allow the devices in those woodland-conservation districts, it may instead give Broad Mountain and/or another developer permission to build with few restrictions.

By updating the ordinance to restrict the use of wind turbines, while not completely outlawing them, the township would be able to better control their uses while having an ordinance that can pass legal muster.

Kowalick held up the current issue of a magazine published by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and showed residents the cover stating that townships are becoming "green," along with depictions of wind turbines.

"This is what we, as supervisors, are up against," said Kowalick.

Another issue is the legal costs involved in a court fight, said Kowalick, noting the township has zoning hearing board solicitor Chester Corse with about $6,200 dealing with the issue.

"We're not only fighting the wind turbines. We're also fighting the township budget," said Kowalick. "And that's just for Mr. Corse. At what cost to the township do we stop doing this? I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here."


Source: http://www.republicanherald...

SEP 22 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22307-butler-twp-to-address-wind-turbine-issues
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