Supervisors continued to discuss details to the township’s model ordinance on the regulation and installation of wind turbines at Monday night’s meeting.
The board voted to establish a more stringent ordinance at the Nov. 6 meeting because of concerns expressed by township residents and property owners regarding the regulation of the structures.
For the past several months, the board has been collecting information on the impact wind turbines may have on the environment and residents’ health.
The county planning commission has approved plans for Gamesa Energy USA and Shaffer Mountain LLC to install five wind turbines in Ogle Township. Three turbines plan to be erected on Berwind Natural Resources Corp., property and two turbines on Harvey and Harriet Bear property.
Supervisors continued to listen to residents’ concerns Monday night.
Ogle Township property owner Joseph J. Cominsky emphasized the importance of protecting the watershed that runs along the township’s ridge tops.
The installation of the proposed wind turbines will devastate the last piece of pristine watershed in the area, said Cominsky as he pointed to a map illustrating the placement of the wind turbines.
Supervisors also heard testimonials from Meyersdale residents Todd Hutzell and Karen Ervin, who spoke about their experience living near a wind farm.
Both residents said they are not against clean energy, but have experienced several heath problems including migraines, heart palpitations, ringing in the ears and sleeping problems since the installation of the wind farm.
Protecting the health and welfare of township residents is a major concern of the board, said supervisors’ Chairman Harvey Weyandt Jr.
Weyandt said the board contacted various state and federal organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for guidelines on how to regulate the structures.
He reported that the board has only received a response from DEP on issuing permits for the structures.
The board showed frustration over the matter because of a lack of guidance from state governing agencies.
“The state is dumping this upon the townships,” said Weyandt. “We are a poor township and we can’t afford to do the surveys needed to make an informed decision on how to regulate the structures properly.”
The board continued to make amendments to a model ordinance composed by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the Department of Environmental Protection and Gamesa Energy USA, a subsidiary of Gamesa Corp., a Spanish wind turbine manufacturer.
The township’s proposed amendments includes a setback of two times the hub height from the property line of a non-participating property owner and the turbine must also have a setback of two times the hub height from any public road. The structures noise level is not to exceed 45 decibels of sound from the nearest property line of a non-participating property owner.
The supervisors are also issuing an application fee of $3,000 per wind turbine in which the township will use to maintain the structure once it is built. The board also decided to require the wind company to establish an escrow account of $2,000 which will be applied for engineering fees the township may accrue if any pre-construction studies are need to be completed.
The board approved a motion for township solicitor John Gibson to draft the ordinance for the January meeting and the board plans to adopt the ordinance in February.
By Jennifer Garlesky
Daily American Correspondent
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
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