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Residents oppose windmill

A windmill mounted on a 140-foot tower at a state park will demonstrate renewable power, say state officials.

But upset neighbors claim the tower will obstruct their views, contribute to noise pollution and be a general nuisance.

“Everyone opposes this,” said Brian Turner, one of six homeowners living across the street from Tuscarora State Park.

Property owners estimate the windmill will be between 300 and 600 yards from most properties.

David Clewell said he moved to the area along Tuscarora Park Road from Tamaqua 11 years ago for the unspoiled setting, and said the windmill will change all that.

“The park is supposed to be all-natural and a windmill isn’t natural,” Clewell said, adding that local vacation cabins were at least built with natural woods.

Clewell’s property will be the closest to the windmill and he estimates the tower will be only 150 yards from his front door.

George Ward, another neighbor, said the state never informed the residents of the plans.

“They’ve been over there about a week now and then I hear they’re putting up a windmill. A windmill?” said Ward.

Brian Lawfer, preparing to build a home along Tuscarora Park Road, said regardless of distance, the windmill will be visible to everyone in the community.

“Something that high isn’t that big, but, when you put it next to everything else that’s 20 feet high, it looks big,” Lawfer said.

Dennis Harris, park maintenance supervisor for the park, said the windmill will be much smaller than the 256-foot-tall windmills under construction for the Locust Ridge Wind Farm in Mahanoy Township.

“They’re megawatts; we’re down in kilowatts here,” said Harris.

Harris said the new windmill would produce 10 thousand watts of power, producing one-third of the power for the park’s facilities.

Owen Hyland, superintendent with Candor Construction Group, Elmwood Park, N.J., said blades for the turbine would be only 11 feet long, compared to 135-foot-long blades for the Locust Ridge turbines.

The company said they would likely install the turbine, mounted on an open tower, by December and they have already finished laying 550 feet of cable from the planned location of the tower to the park office.

Frank DeWitt, account executive for the company, said sound from the turbine would be completely dissipated beyond 100 feet and would not be detectable to residents.

Chris Novak, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said the project is being funded by a $75,000 grant from the Sustainable Development Fund set up by the public utility commission to promote renewable and sustainable energy.

The windmill is one of six – one existing and another recently installed – being placed in state parks for educational purposes and to promote renewable energy.

Novak said the grant will fund $25,000 of the total $78,000 cost for the Tuscarora Park project.

She said no other complaints have been registered from other locations and does not know whether residents were contacted by park officials about the project.

State Park Manager Lewis H. Williams was not available for comment Wednesday.

Turner said residents are circulating a petition opposing the project and Clyde C. “Champ” Holman, chief of staff for state Senator James J. Rhoades, R-29, said those complaints would be forwarded to the state agency.

By Shawn A Hessinger
Tamaqua Bureau Chief