A Lycoming County judge has lots of reading to do before she decides whether a $100 million wind farm should be allowed on a ridge.
Judge Nancy L. Butts said yesterday she plans to read the 26 volumes of transcripts from the 16 months of hearings conducted by the county zoning hearing board before deciding an appeal by Laurel Hill Wind Energy.
The Rutland, Vt., company wants to install 35 turbines in Jackson and McIntyre townships. It is appealing the 3-2 decision by the zoning board that denied the special exception needed to build the wind farm.
The state advocates development of alternative energy, said Thomas C. Marshall, who represents Laurel Hill. He argued that it would not cause significant damage to the area or wildlife and that there is no evidence the turbines will violate a noise ordinance.
Zoning board solicitor Karl K. Baldys said the massive project would leave a big footprint in an area zoned for minimum development.
In its June 14 opinion, the zoning board’s concerns included changes to wildlife habitat, noise from the turbines and potential damage to cold-water fisheries.
If the townships and county want wind farms, they should amend ordinances to permit them, he said.
The county planning commission has not taken a position on the project other than making recommendations to make it consistent with the comprehensive plan. However, its solicitor, Charles F. Greevy III, told Butts the area is not pristine forest and is not appropriate for a scenic designation.
Laurel Hill, formed by Catamount Energy Corp. of Rutland, Vt., and Marubeni Power International Inc. of New York, plans to lease 706 acres for its project.
Catamount has other wind farm developments in the western United States, including Texas, and the United Kingdom.
BY John Beauge
For The Patriot-News
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