Depending upon which side of the line you’re standing, a $5,000 land survey may pay off for Portage Township or steal from a neighboring Blair County township.
There has been debate for generations over the boundary separating Portage and Juniata townships. Two wind turbines and a survey to determine their locations may heat things up again quickly.
Portage Township officials, after months of wondering what happened to two of the 16 windmills they were expecting to receive from Gamesa, used old maps and new global positioning system information to survey the disputed area.
They say the results put the turbines back in their township.
The outcome, during the 30-year life span of the turbines, could mean the gain or loss of $180,000 for Portage or neighboring Juniata.
Last year, Gamesa’s maps determined the turbines would be built in Juniata.
Various maps draw different lines between Cambria and Blair counties, officials in both townships say.
Officials of Portage and Washington townships, which split the cost of the survey, believe their map, decided in the early 1900s, is correct.
Fred Brown, a longtime land surveyor from Beaverdale, retraced those lines, which relied on an 1883 map, Supervisor James Decort said.
“When it was all said and done, the two windmills weren’t even close to the boundary line,” Decort said.
Juniata solicitor Michael Routch hadn’t seen the survey results Friday. But he stands by Ebensburg firm L. Robert Kimball and Associates data, which Juniata officials have used.
“So they want to fight with us now, over two windmills?” he asked. “Give me a break.”
Routch said he was disappointed but not entirely surprised.
He said he’ll take the news back to Juniata supervisors to evaluate, adding, “I guess we’ll see where it goes from here.”
The results have been forwarded to Gamesa. The company’s wind farm project manager, Terry Nicol, is out of the office until next week.
Recently, Gamesa officials said they sorted through several maps and settled on old ones that ended up awarding a pair of turbines to Juniata.
At the time, they said they had no problem with local communities doing their own research, noting that the turbines were already built and that the location determines where they send an annual check.
The survey results changed nothing for Washington Township, other than verifying that the community was correctly compensated for the first phase of the Allegheny Ridge farm, officials said.
“I don’t think anyone wants a fight … but it really sounds like this needs [to be] hashed out,” Washington Supervisors chairman Ray Guzic Jr. said, suggesting that the counties again should be called on to settle the debate.
“These township lines have been in question for years, maybe a century. Someone’s saying more, someone’s saying less. Let’s sit down and find out who is right.”
By David Hurst
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