To the editor:
In response to your recent headline, “Wind farm stirs up opposition,” the Folmont Property Owners Association supports Mr. Rick Bonomo’s call for a petition slowing the construction of industrial windmills in Brothersvalley Township.
The permitting of industrial windmills without greater study of health, safety and environmental impact is not warranted given an ever growing body of knowledge concerning the effect of these devices.
These wind factories are not your “Little Dutch Boy” models, but are rather large both in size and in the area required for construction. Each windmill will require the minimal clear cutting of three acres of land and the construction of a very large foundation (181 yards of concrete and 17,000 lbs. of reinforced steel). Maximum efficiency is achieved when the adjacent land clear cut at the rate of 40 acres per tower. Towers can be from 300 to 400 feet tall from base to the tip of the rotor. Construction will include access roads to accommodate cement trucks, cranes and large transportation vehicles.
We disagree that the windmill ordinance passed by the Somerset County commissioners “protects people yet enables people to develop their properties.” Permitted sound emissions from the windmills far exceed those limits set in the European Union and county setbacks do little to protect the existing property rights of adjacent property owners.
Under county ordinances, a windmill could be sited immediately adjacent to a property that does not contain an occupied structure. Future construction of homesites on that property would be limited indeed.
The Bedford County Planning Board has proposed a much stronger model ordinance for adoption by townships in Bedford County. This proposed ordinance contains sophisticated sound level controls and a 2,000 foot setback from occupied buildings. How can the solicitor that advised Bedford County believe that strong limitations can be placed on industrial windmill development while townships in Somerset County are presented with a much weaker version of a model ordinance?
Folmont is a growing residential and recreational community located in Somerset and Bedford counties. Permanent and weekend residences now comprise more than 40 percent of the total land in Folmont generating significant taxes for the local townships. Continued growth of the Folmont subdivision and subsequent increased property tax revenues depends upon the continuance of a peaceful, quiet and forested environment.
It is in the best interests of all citizens of Somerset and Bedford County to develop reasonable regulations of any industry that will dramatically change the nature of the counties involved. To expect less from the counties and township governments is to cede control of to “multi-billion dollar companies.”
Dr. Terence M. Doran
Vice-president of the Folmont Property Owners Association
Thursday, October 26, 2006