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Schuylkill judge denies appeal on windmill project

Rampolla knew that wind turbines are not permitted in the zoning district and should have known Squires had no authority to issue the permit, Miller wrote. "To now argue that (Broad Mountain) acted in good faith is not supported by the record. (It) relied upon at best a mistakenly issued zoning permit and then proceeded to expend resources on a multi-million dollar project with no notice to the adjoining landowners in the Fountain Springs valley.

POTTSVILLE - A Schuylkill County judge on Friday rejected a Gilberton company's appeal of the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board's rejection of its plan to build 27 windmills along the top of Ashland Mountain.

In a 17-page opinion, Judge Charles M. Miller ruled Broad Mountain Development Co. LLC did not show the board erred or abused its discretion in revoking its zoning permit for the wind turbines on 1,110 acres.

The decision at least temporarily ends the proposed construction in Butler Township of the turbines, which have sprouted on many mountains in northern Schuylkill County.

Township Zoning Officer Thomas Squires issued the permit to the company Feb. 4, 2008, at the request of John D. Rampolla, Broad Mountain's secretary-treasurer.

"The issuance of the permit was clearly incorrect and/or a mistake," Miller wrote.

The board revoked the permit July 29, 2009, ruling Squires did not have the authority to issue it because a wind farm is not a permitted use in a Woodland Conservation (W-C) zoning district. Broad Mountain appealed that ruling Aug. 25.

In his opinion, Miller ruled the board had substantial evidence to support its decision and Broad... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

POTTSVILLE - A Schuylkill County judge on Friday rejected a Gilberton company's appeal of the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board's rejection of its plan to build 27 windmills along the top of Ashland Mountain.

In a 17-page opinion, Judge Charles M. Miller ruled Broad Mountain Development Co. LLC did not show the board erred or abused its discretion in revoking its zoning permit for the wind turbines on 1,110 acres.

The decision at least temporarily ends the proposed construction in Butler Township of the turbines, which have sprouted on many mountains in northern Schuylkill County.

Township Zoning Officer Thomas Squires issued the permit to the company Feb. 4, 2008, at the request of John D. Rampolla, Broad Mountain's secretary-treasurer.

"The issuance of the permit was clearly incorrect and/or a mistake," Miller wrote.

The board revoked the permit July 29, 2009, ruling Squires did not have the authority to issue it because a wind farm is not a permitted use in a Woodland Conservation (W-C) zoning district. Broad Mountain appealed that ruling Aug. 25.

In his opinion, Miller ruled the board had substantial evidence to support its decision and Broad Mountain could not overcome that.

The board's substantial evidence included testimony from several neighboring property owners who opposed the project. Broad Mountain had challenged those owners' right to intervene in the case, but Miller rejected that contention.

"The record is replete with the landowners' testimony concerning the relatively close proximity of their real estate and residences to the various wind turbines which will prominently project into the sky," Miller wrote. "The board had substantial evidence that the landowners' interests were immediate and not remote."

Furthermore, Miller ruled, the landowners filed their appeal soon after they learned of the project, rejecting Broad Mountain's contention that it was untimely.

"The board has not abused its discretion or committed an error of law in finding the landowners' appeal was timely," Miller wrote.

Finally, Miller rejected Broad Mountain's claim that they had a vested right to the permit, even if it was wrongly issued, because it had acted in good faith and spent substantial money it cannot recover.

Rampolla knew that wind turbines are not permitted in the zoning district and should have known Squires had no authority to issue the permit, Miller wrote.

"To now argue that (Broad Mountain) acted in good faith is not supported by the record. (It) relied upon at best a mistakenly issued zoning permit and then proceeded to expend resources on a multi-million dollar project with no notice to the adjoining landowners in the Fountain Springs valley. The course of action taken by (Broad Mountain) was at (its) own risk," Miller wrote.


Source: http://standardspeaker.com/...

MAY 30 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26543-schuylkill-judge-denies-appeal-on-windmill-project
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