By KEVIN AMERMAN firstname.lastname@example.org
BEAR CREEK TWP. ““ A plan to build a 25-turbine wind park on Penobscot Mountain was stalled by township supervisors two months ago, but a county judge has put the plan back in motion.
In a 2-1 vote in May, the supervisors rejected a preliminary plan submitted by Energy Unlimited and Pennsylvania Wind Power. Before rejecting the plan, the board voted 2-1 against giving the companies a 60-day extension to address concerns raised by the township’s planning commission.
Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan ruled Friday that supervisors violated the township’s own ordinances by voting the plan down without a written recommendation to approve or reject it by the township’s planning board and failed to make a decision on the plan within 90 days. The judge said the plan has satisfied the township’s subdivision and land development ordinance and he granted preliminary approval.
Ernest D. Preate Jr., the attorney for Energy Unlimited and Pennsylvania Wind Power, said he expects the township to appeal Conahan’s decision to Commonwealth Court, which he estimated will delay the construction by at least six months. Preate said he’s confident that his clients would win the appeal.
“We have more than met the requirements of the township,” he said.
Some opponents of the plan said they would support it in a less environmentally sensitive location.
Preate insists the wind farm would be a “safe, environmentally friendly site” that would generate renewable energy on county-owned land near Crystal Lake. He said such projects should be embraced.
“This will help us in 10 to 15 years to get rid of Middle Eastern oil and all the terror it brings,” Preate said.
Energy Unlimited and Pennsylvania Wind Power must still submit final plans to the township to get the plan fully approved. Preate said final approval would be a formality. He said most of the details have been worked out in the preliminary phase and only engineering and surveying issues need to be ironed out in the final stage.
There is a separate plan calling for the construction of nine additional wind turbines on the site. Preate said that plan was approved by the township zoning hearing board in July and is before the planning commission.
The township supervisors and solicitor Bill Vinsko could not be reached for comment.
Kevin Amerman, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7218.
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