Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Pennsylvania
Up to 35 electricity-generating wind turbines are to be built along seven miles of the Laurel Hill ridge in Jackson and McIntyre townships in northern Lycoming County, under the plans of Vermont-based Laurel Hill Wind Energy. On Tuesday, the commission reviewed the plan in detail. "The work session was held to delve into the plan and make sure all our questions are answered," said Kurt Hausammann Jr., commission executive director. "A plan of this scale warranted a separate meeting."
Residents and supervisors are trying to find a wind turbine ordinance that both protects neighbors from unreasonable development and also minimizes township expense. During the Monday meeting, after discussion between supervisors, township solicitor James Yelovich and the board left open the timetable for enactment. However, the board was in agreement that something more than the current county regulations should be in place before serious township turbine development begins.
A community organization's land use appeal in Tioga County regarding a wind farm project on Armenia Mountain has been denied. ...On Jan. 17, Tioga Preservation Group filed a land-use appeal asking the court to reverse the granting of preliminary approval by the planning commission to the preliminary land development plan of AES.
A company that plans to build a wind turbine facility in southern Wyoming County says it wants to be a good corporate citizen. While BP Alternative Energy sponsored two outdoor events this summer, some people are unhappy with the company, including Richard Ide, whose cabin in Mehoopany is near a stretch of land where transmission lines may be placed. "They (BP) have the resources to drive me into the ground, which is what they are trying to do," said Ide of Tunkhannock. "I have hired two attorneys."
It's not clear how many municipalities have approved ordinances or taken other steps to govern windmills. It doesn't appear to be many. But the reality is that there could be a windmill -- or windmill farm of 20 or more towering wind machines -- coming to a field near you in the not-too-distant future. Thus, at least the possibility of such should be on the radar screen of every municipal governing body in the state.
Shade Township supervisors are revising an ordinance regulating wind turbines that they adopted last year. Supervisors on Thursday authorized township Solicitor Scott Bittner to start the process of claiming that the one-time, $2,500 application fee does not cover the cost of processing, which includes engineering and legal expenses. "It doesn't come close," Shade Supervisor Chairman John Topka said.
AES, based in Arlington, Va., plans to build 52 turbines in Armenia Township in western Bradford County and 73 more in Richmond, Sullivan and Ward townships in eastern Tioga County. The plan has drawn protest from some area residents, notably in Tioga County, who believe the towers will become eyesores, cause noise pollution and a potentially unpleasant "flickering" lighting effect caused by the whirling turbine blades. The matter is still under consideration by the Tioga County Planning Commission, said Erick Coolidge, chairman of the Tioga County commissioners.
The Eaton-Monroe Township Joint Planning Committee reviewed amendments Monday to a zoning ordinance that addresses natural gas drilling and wind turbines. No action was taken on the revised law, which also would regulate outdoor furnaces. ...Included in the revisions would be language to address sound levels and decommissioning of a wind turbine facility.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued two permits to AES Armenia Mountain Wind LLC for the construction of 125 wind turbines in Bradford and Tioga counties, but according to Tioga Preservation Group member Judi Piccolella, the appeal the group filed earlier this year against a December planning commission decision to conditionally approve the project is still tied up in the Tioga County court system. "We are still waiting for a court date to be set on this," said Piccolella, of Liberty. The appeal deals with the Tioga County part of the project.
Action by the Fayette County commissioners could clear the way for future wind turbine projects in the county. The commissioners unanimously approved a motion Thursday to direct the county planning office to begin the procedure through the planning commission to amend the zoning ordinance regarding wind turbines and to make any recommendations the commission deems necessary. The action was different than the proposal put forth during Tuesday's agenda meeting, which specifically stated possibly changing the allowable height of wind turbines from 250 feet to 262.5 feet to reflect current industry standards.
Barbara Green, president of the Carbon County resort, told the Lower Towamensing Township Planning Commission on Thursday that she's agreed to work with St. Francis University in Cambria County to see how much power could be produced. Blue Mountain spends $1.2 million annually buying electricity from PPL, and a renewable energy source could make a huge dent in the resort's bill, Green said. During the spring, summer and fall when the mountain is closed, the power produced by a wind turbine would be sold to PPL.
The amended ordinance passed by a 3-1 vote. Township officials held a series of public hearings over the past few months, weighing opinions of wind turbine experts and township homeowners. The amended ordinance puts in to place stricter noise and placement standards. And it addresses tougher enforcement issues. Also, a wind turbine is not allowed to be visible from the Horseshoe Curve.
During his testimony, Piccolella alleged instances in which Pfeiffer approved the application while it was incomplete. In fact, pages were missing in the application, he said. He also said Pfeiffer erred in approving the application because resource protection zones do not allow intensive development. Other residents testified, including Gene Koonz, who argued that the ordinance simply was a way of appeasing a wealthy company at the expense of a beautiful ridgeline. Koonz said he did not believe the wind energy project would "pay its way."
A Springhill Township man concerned that his sound recording equipment may be rendered useless if a proposed wind turbine project is built near his home brought his concerns Tuesday to the Fayette County commissioners. Thomas John Bozek III, who lives on Wymps Gap Road, asked the commissioners to "consider the people the proposed project is going to affect." "I'm asking you to protect my investment, my property and my life. All I want to do is be left alone and play my music," Bozek said.
At least two of the three Fayette County commissioners are interested in amending the county's zoning ordinance to increase the allowable height of wind turbines to match the current industry standards. Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky said Monday he supports an initiative by Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink to increase the height referenced in the zoning ordinance. "It should be done to reflect the standard. We need to amend it," Zapotosky said.
''I feel it's a pretty good ordinance,'' Charlie Diehl, chairman of the three-man board of supervisors, said Monday after the unanimous vote to approve the 21-page ordinance. Diehl said he thought the regulations were fair, and he stressed that although they're not perfect, the rules are meant to look after the interests of the residents while allowing for the development of wind power in the township. Gamesa USA has proposed a 25-turbine wind farm that would be situated predominately in Snyder Township.
The Penn Forest Zoning Hearing Board met Thursday night to determine whether to grant a special exception to the township's building ordinance for a wind turbine. ...Township zoning officer Joseph Steber said the ordinance was written to allow wind turbines, which he said are being heavily promoted by both the state and federal governments, but that it requires homeowners to apply for and receive a special exception from the zoning hearing board before a wind turbine can be erected.
"You have to have some kind of guidelines," said William "B.J." Smith, Adams chairman. "But we wouldn't want to deny anybody the right to run their own home." Barbin's residential wind-turbine ordinance is based on those enacted by other municipalities. It would requre setbacks from the owner's property line to be at at least equal to tower's height plus 15 feet. Most residential wind turbines are less than 150 feet tall, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Despite township Planning Commission concerns, Kidder Township supervisors voted Thursday to adopt an ordinance regulating the construction and use of residential windmills. ...Although the ordinance did receive a nod from the county Planning Commission, township planners earlier this month asked supervisors to postpone its adoption until further information was gathered. Tim Ryan, Pfeil's neighbor, opposes turbines in residential areas and has asked officials to consider the impact a turbine would have on wildlife, wetlands, and noise levels.
Supervisors adopted an ordinance that permits wind turbines as an exception and also adopted an ordinance that authorizes the tax collector to charge a fee for wage attachments when she collects delinquent per capita and occupational taxes. The wind turbine ordinance regulates the minimum height of the lowest position of the wind rotor at 25 feet above the ground, plus requires redundant braking systems and that wind mills must be at least 110 percent times the turbine height away from a structure or a neighboring property line.