Next week Allegheny Township supervisors plan to begin the process of approving an ordinance to tighten windmill regulations.
Supervisors intend to eventually pass an ordinance that will be more restrictive of windmill construction than an ordinance Somerset County passed in 2004.
The township’s proposed ordinance will extend the distance between windmills and property lines and expand the definition of occupied buildings, supervisor chairman Miles Costello Jr. said.
The supervisors will meet to discuss and vote on the ordinance in the Allegheny Township municipal building at 7 p.m. Nov. 6.
“I believe we’re going to go with it, then come what may,” Costello said.
He said that during the three months the supervisors were developing the ordinance, they sought to find a balance between protecting property owners who don’t want windmills near them while maintaining the right of people to develop their property to harvest wind energy.
The proposed ordinance would require windmills to be erected at a distance of at least five times the windmill’s hub height from any building that can be inhabited by people. This includes what Costello described as “recreational homes,” such as cabins and summer get-aways. Sixty-seven percent of the township is owned by people whose primary residence is elsewhere, Costello said.
The ordinance will mandate setbacks between windmills and property lines, supervisor Dale Miller said.
Terry Doran, vice president of the Folmont Property Owner’s Association, said landowners in the 288-lot subdivision, located on Bald Knob Mountain near state Route 30, are concerned a company could build a windmill on the edge of the subdivision. Such construction could devalue land and negate the reason many people bought property in Folmont in the first place, he said.
“If we’re going to see them, then we would certainly like to see some regulations,” he said.
Landowners were happy the supervisors considered property line setbacks in the ordinance, he said, but wanted the setback distance to be set at least at 1,000 feet. The association would also like a windmill noise level to be set at 35 decibels.
There are currently no windmills in Allegheny Township. Neither Costello nor the county planning commission has received any specific proposals for building a wind farm in the township.
But the hilly region could have the potential to be developed for wind energy. Berlin Borough has previously investigated building three windmills on White Horse Mountain.
“The whole ridge top of White Horse Mountain is in our township and that’s about the highest point around,” Miller said.
Somerset County Planning Commission Director Brad Zearfoss said municipality zoning ordinances supersede county ordinances and can be either stronger or weaker than the county’s ordinance.
Allegheny Township is one of the only Somerset County townships that has its own subdivision ordinance. The township has always taken an interest in creating its own land use ordinances, Miller said.
By Rob Gebhart, Daily American Staff Writer
(Rob Gebhart can be reached at email@example.com.)
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