September 19, 2006

Several items remain unresolved in Bear Creek wind park plans; Developer, township commission disagree over requirements

Little progress was made on the proposed wind farm at the township’s planning commission meeting Monday night.

Representatives from the company seeking approval to build the wind park, Energy Unlimited, and planning commission members sparred for nearly two hours over several issues.

The land to be used for the wind farm is part of approximately 7,000 acres owned by Luzerne County. There are currently no public roads built to access the land.

In the company’s proposal, access roads would be built to the area for the sole purpose of building and maintaining the wind turbines. The roads would be off limits to public motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Several of the planning commission members argued that because it’s public land, access should be allowed to anyone.

If the roads are to be used by the public, they would have to be built to the standards in the township’s ordinance.

Representatives from Energy Unlimited argued the proposed access road would first go through an easement on private property.

Anyone other than authorized people would be trespassing.

Complicating the situation, the county-owned land is expected to be sold to the state by the end of this year, according to Bradley Elison, district forester from the state’s Bureau of Forestry. Elison said the land is intended to become part of the state forest system.

Township solicitor Bill Vinsko told the commission, in his opinion, that they could not take into account any future owner of the land. They could only make a recommendation based on the application submitted, he added.

A recommendation by the commission on Energy Unlimited’s application is expected at its October meeting.

By Bill Androckitis Jr., Correspondent

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