Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Pennsylvania
Let us not forget that we are sacrificing precious forest, rural areas and adjoining home values for an industry that cannot make a profit without huge tax subsidies, is 30 percent efficient in Pennsylvania and will not decrease our dependence on foreign oil or provide significant amount of steady electricity at a reasonable price (without subsidies and tax breaks). Once these areas are desecrated, it will be many years before any semblance of our natural areas and scenic vistas are restored.
Opponents of proposed windmills near Crystal Lake have appealed a county judge’s ruling that cleared the way for the construction. William Higgs, attorney for the environmental group Defend Our Watershed, filed the appeal Tuesday with the state Commonwealth Court. The group seeks to overturn a Jan. 3 ruling by Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan, who upheld a decision by the Bear Creek Township Zoning Board which granted a variance that would allow Energy Unlimited Inc. to erect nine windmills near the lake.
A local citizens group filed an appeal Tuesday to reverse Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan’s decision allowing Energy Unlimited to build nine of its proposed 34 wind turbines on county-owned land in Bear Creek Township. Save Crystal Lake, which opposes the proposed wind farm near Crystal Lake, filed the appeal through attorney William Higgs on the grounds the land was purchased for preservation. Bear Creek supervisors rejected, 2-1, Energy Unlimited’s proposed land variance to build the additional nine turbines of the proposed wind park. Conahan previously overturned the supervisors’ vote on the other 25 turbines. That decision was appealed by the township and Save Crystal Lake, and awaits a Commonwealth Court decision.
Standing outside the home of Bill and Rosina Martz along the Susquehanna River, it's easy to see Mahantongo Mountain and even easier to imagine how the landscape would change once 33 or more wind turbines are built. Gamesa Energy of Spain plans to build a 50-megawatt wind farm along the summit of Mahantongo Mountain. Township officials and local residents say the company is looking at a six-mile section of the mountain, starting near Route 147 north of Millersburg and running east to Deibler's Gap in Mifflin Twp. That size wind farm would require about 33 turbines, each of which would stand 416 feet above the mountain ridge with a single propeller blade reaching nearly 300 feet from end to end. They would be spaced about 1,000 feet apart.
Another announcement of plans to build a large wind farm along a Pennsylvania ridgetop brings additional emphasis to the urgent need for the state to enact a windmill-siting protocol. Failure to do so threatens to dramatically alter Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley landscape to a degree not seen since the 19th-century lumber barons denuded Penn’s Woods.
Gamesa Energy of Spain is moving forward with a 50-megawatt wind farm atop more than six miles of Mahantongo Mountain in northern Dauphin County. The company hopes to have the wind farm operating in 2009, said Michael Peck, a spokesman for Gamesa. Company officials are negotiating leases with property owners along the mountain summit, he said.
Two golden eagles that soared along the Allegheny Front ridge in Central Pennsylvania late last year and are now gliding over the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky might one day help determine where new windmills will be built in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the East. The wide-winged raptors are wearing tiny radio telemetry transmitters that allow National Aviary researchers to track their migration routes and eventually develop the first bird's-eye-view data showing where electric wind turbines should be built and not built to minimize the killing of eagles and other big birds. Most wind turbine development has occurred without any scientific research on the consequences to migrating birds, according to Todd Katzner, director of conservation and field research at the National Aviary on the North Side. That has increased the risk that the turbine blades, some more than 100 feet long, will become bird slicers and dicers.
The basic problem with the 1836 law in the modern era is that it unfairly imposes the consequences of one person’s actions on others who had no role in them. Greene and Wolfe didn’t cause Noblit’s problem, and they should not have to pay for his decision back in 1972 to buy a landlocked parcel without first securing a right-of-way to the property. And while he may be planning to take timber, the fact that he is seeking a right of way large enough for a two-lane road suggests he may be looking beyond that to putting something of greater and more enduring impact on the mountaintop.
BEAR CREEK TWP. — The future usage of county-owned land is in the hands of the Commonwealth Court, even as the company that wants to build a 34-turbine wind farm on the county’s Theta land won an appeal in Luzerne County Court for part of its plan this past week. Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan sided with Energy Unlimited on Wednesday in its appeal to overturn a supervisors’ 2-1 November vote that rejected the back nine turbines of a proposed Penobscot Mountain Wind Farm near Crystal Lake. Commonwealth Court heard arguments Dec. 11, for plans of the front 25 turbines, but the three-judge panel has yet to reach a decision. Conahan’s decision Wednesday holds little weight until Commonwealth Court reaches its decision, as plans for the additional nine turbines are dependent on the front 25 turbines. Energy Unlimited submitted the two plans separately because of zoning issues. Township supervisors, meanwhile, “will wait and see what Commonwealth Court does” before deciding whether to appeal Conahan’s decision, supervisor chairwoman Ruth Koval said.
PennFuture continues to test wind capacity at Hazleton City Authority’s treatment plant, off Arthur Gardner Parkway in Hazleton Heights. But the testing is nearing completion.
Potter County Planning Commission members will wait until later in the year to host a public meeting on the proposed “wind farm” in the Ulysses area. The matter has been removed from the agenda of the group’s monthly business meeting of next Tuesday due to the issue’s complexity and the anticipated large turnout. A new date for the wind farm discussion will be announced.
A neighbor’s use of a little-known Pennsylvania law is wreaking havoc with Janet Greene and Randy Wolfe. The Halifax Twp. couple live in the woods on Berry’s Mountain in northern Dauphin County. Their neighbor, Glenn R. Noblit, is demanding the right to build a private road across their land. Late last year, he sued the couple and their lawyer, Joel M. Wiest of Sunbury, for $105,000 for standing in his way. “He wants to run a 50-foot [wide] road just behind the house,” said Greene, 50, citing Noblit’s original petition to have the private road built. ......... Noblit said in his lawsuit that he needs the road to harvest oak trees appraised at $21,400 on 17 acres he has owned since 1972 at the top of Berry’s Mountain. But Greene and Wolfe said they fear his real intention is to lease the ground to a wind-farm developer or sell it for homes.
A judge has approved a decision to allow a variance to build nine wind turbines in Bear Creek Township. Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan on Wednesday upheld the May decision by the Bear Creek Township Zoning Board. Energy Unlimited Inc. wants to build nine turbines near Crystal Lake on 835 acres Luzerne County acquired from Theta Land Corp., in addition to building 25 turbines previously proposed for the site known as the Penobscot Mountain Wind Farm.
ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP - Property rights, noise and potential negative health problems wind turbines may have upon residents were among some of the concerns township supervisors heard Thursday night. About 15 residents and property owners attended the township’s public hearing to comment on the township proposed wind energy ordinance. For several months supervisor’s have been discussing regulating the structures.
Preston Township supervisors started the new year off with a Windmill Ordinance (Ordinance # 2007-01). The ordinance makes an understanding that: “No wind Turbine Generators shall be constructed, operated or maintained within Preston Township without a permit for the sameŠ.A separate application shall be filed for each structureŠ.In addition, Permitee shall be subject to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance of the Township of Preston and shall file the appropriate application in connection with that Ordinance as well.”
For the second time this year, Energy Unlimited filed suit against Bear Creek Township based on a township supervisors’ vote on wind turbines. The company filed the suit Wednesday to reverse the supervisors’ 2-1 vote to deny a variance allowing nine turbines near Crystal Lake.
It’s called the Allegheny Plateau, a wide span of ridges stretching across west-central Pennsylvania and then south into West Virginia. The wind patterns and terrain characteristics of the plateau make it the primary reason why Cambria and Somerset counties soon will be home to more than 500 new windmills during the next few years, with predictions of more on the horizon. That number is in addition to the 34 existing turbines in Somerset County and includes the 90 proposed for the Allegheny Ridge.
An Arlington, Va.-based company is pursuing the development of a wind farm on Armenia Mountain in Bradford and Tioga counties. “It’s in the neighborhood of (about) 150 megawatts in size, which would put it somewhere between 60 to 75 turbines, depending on what size turbines we use,” Bob White, project director with AES of Arlington, Va., said. The wind farm would generate electricity to be sold to a Pennsylvania utility company. White said the total acreage that is needed for the turbines is estimated to be 150 acres.
The crowd of more than 65 people took time to criticize companies like Berwind Corp., of Philadelphia, which has been involved in numerous mining operations, landfill projects and wind turbine sites in the region. Joseph Cominsky, of Windber, cited Berwind as the primary landowner in a Shaffer Mountain wind turbine project he is actively opposed to.
On Monday, county Judge Nancy L. Butts heard arguments by lawyers involved in Laurel Hill Wind Energy LLC’s appeal of the county Zoning Hearing Board’s ruling to deny it a special exception to build a wind farm in northern Lycoming County. According to courtroom spectator Maureen Wroblewski, Butts will need saint-like wisdom to make her decision whether to uphold or overturn the board’s ruling. “I wouldn’t want to be in her position,” Wroblewski said. Butts also will have to be a prolific reader.