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Company's request for wind farm in Wharton tabled

The debate over a proposed wind farm in Fayette County has generated more discussions over rhetoric and noise levels than electricity from its turbines. Yesterday, the county commissioners again attempted to find some middle ground between the company, Iberdrola, and residents living near the proposed site in Wharton.

The debate over a proposed wind farm in Fayette County has generated more discussions over rhetoric and noise levels than electricity from its turbines.

Yesterday, the county commissioners again attempted to find some middle ground between the company, Iberdrola, and residents living near the proposed site in Wharton.

The commissioners first tabled a request from Iberdrola, formerly Atlantic PPM, for an amendment to a county zoning ordinance, then offered changes for review by the county planning commission for an amendment that pertains to acceptable sound levels and the point from where those measurements are taken.

Chairman Vincent Zapotosky and Commissioner Vincent Vicites agreed to table Iberdrola's request regarding its proposed wind farm and instead offered an alternative that follows the guidelines established last week in a decision by Common Pleas Judge Steven Leskinen. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink dissented.

The discussion between the three commissioners concerning the proposed wind farm grew heated at times, especially when Zimmerlink said she hadn't yet seen Leskinen's 34-page court order.

"I was ready to say no," Zimmerlink said, referring to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The debate over a proposed wind farm in Fayette County has generated more discussions over rhetoric and noise levels than electricity from its turbines.

Yesterday, the county commissioners again attempted to find some middle ground between the company, Iberdrola, and residents living near the proposed site in Wharton.

The commissioners first tabled a request from Iberdrola, formerly Atlantic PPM, for an amendment to a county zoning ordinance, then offered changes for review by the county planning commission for an amendment that pertains to acceptable sound levels and the point from where those measurements are taken.

Chairman Vincent Zapotosky and Commissioner Vincent Vicites agreed to table Iberdrola's request regarding its proposed wind farm and instead offered an alternative that follows the guidelines established last week in a decision by Common Pleas Judge Steven Leskinen. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink dissented.

The discussion between the three commissioners concerning the proposed wind farm grew heated at times, especially when Zimmerlink said she hadn't yet seen Leskinen's 34-page court order.

"I was ready to say no," Zimmerlink said, referring to Iberdrola's request. "I'm not ready to support an amendment here. I want to review the court order first."

In his order, which was handed down June 18, Leskinen acknowledged that problems can occur in any new technology.

"Unfortunately, like a new prescription drug, new power technologies can have unpleasant and unforeseen 'side-effects,'" the judge wrote. "And both the federal and state governments acknowledge candidly that there are many as yet unanswered questions as to the best practices for sitting and operating wind-power 'farms.'"

But Leskinen added that the company is "entitled to proceed with every permit application lawfully and timely made," and that the zoning hearing board "made errors of law and abused its discretion by denying the setbacks, denying the special exceptions, and imposing certain specific inappropriate conditions ... ."

After the meeting, Zapotosky said he understood the concerns of residents living near the site but added that the county has "a responsibility to help provide clean energy ... and enable a change for the better."

Zapotosky said the proposed project would include 23 wind turbines and an investment by Iberdrola of at least $140 million. "Fayette County has an opportunity to participate and help offset our dependency on foreign oil," he said.

The commissioners were questioned about another controversial environmental issue - Marcellus shale natural gas well drilling - and the related discussions between the audience and the commissioners at times grew tense.

Marygrace Butela of Dunbar criticized the commissioners for ignoring her request several months ago to form a task force to study the effects of gas well drilling in the county.

Butela urged the commissioners to "do the right thing" by forming a task force rather than depending solely on the state Department of Environment Protection for oversight of area projects. She presented a poster with pictures of drilling sites in the county.

Zapotosky countered by saying that state officials have more authority than those in county government, and he used the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an example.

"You have seen the president of the United States order a moratorium on the drilling of deepwater offshore oil wells only to see that order denied by the courts," he said.


Source: http://www.pittsburghlive.c...

JUN 25 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26893-company-s-request-for-wind-farm-in-wharton-tabled
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