A pamphlet opposing the Shaffer Mountain wind farm sent to 5,100 Windber Area Authority customers has board members upset about the use of the authority’s name and contact information.
“We’re overburdened with calls today and our name is plastered all over it,” Manager Dennis Mash told the board during Wednesday’s meeting.
Copies of the eight-page glossy mailer, which also features a Daily American article reproduced without permission, were brought to the meeting by Windber resident Joseph Cominsky.
Cominsky has been an ardent foe of the Gamesa project and has traveled to scores of meetings talking about his environmental concerns with the proposed development.
The public proselytizing has been so effective that in the last several months, a number of local groups and municipalities have come forward to oppose the 30-turbine wind farm, which is projected to extend through parts of Shade and Ogle townships in Somerset County and Napier Township in Bedford County.
However, the glossy mailer might have been going a bit too far for the authority. While Cominsky maintained only that concerned citizens were behind the pamphlet, he would not give the board a phone number for people to contact if they had issues with the mailing.
“There’s a P.O. Box on it. I think it’s very clear,” he said.
The board wanted more than an address to give people calling the authority.
“Who is accountable? Who should they call? A number and a name,” solicitor James Cascio said.
He said the biggest problem with the pamphlet is that it doesn’t accurately recount the authority’s role in the project.
“The authority’s been disserviced because the whole story’s not here,” he said.
The authority, under a 1989 land use agreement with primary landowner Berwind Natural Resources Corp., of Philadelphia, has only the right to approve or approve with written conditions the terms of any use that would impact the watershed, he said.
In January, the authority asked in writing for restrictions and specifications of the project regarding the watershed and the developer, Gamesa Energy USA, has complied with that initial request, he said.
At the time, the authority’s main concern was the proximity of several turbines to authority wells. He said the project is now in the hands of the state Department of Environmental Protection for review of the impact development would have on other aspects of the mountain and its wildlife.
Cominsky responded that the pamphlet was designed to increase public awareness about the project and the environmental abuses he contends are already taking place there.
Cascio said the authority was confident the DEP would conduct a thorough review
“Are you saying that the DEP only applies its rules when the public makes noise?” he said. “The authority has already done what it can do for this project.”
Cascio went on to recommend to authority members if they receive any more phone calls, to give callers Cominsky’s phone number.
By Dan DiPaolo
Daily American 30 North Chief
Editor’s note: The Daily American was not aware of the planned production of the flyer and did not give permission for any of its copyrighted material to be used in that publication.
26 April 2007
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