CAIRNBROOK – As the outcry against the Shaffer Mountain windmill development intensifies, state officials are considering holding a public hearing before proceeding with permits for the 30 proposed turbines.
A state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said Wednesday the agency has received enough comments from concerned individuals to warrant the hearing.
“Our biggest fear was that there would be no hearing at all,” said windmill opponent Lori Waylonis of Central City. “That was one of our stands. We were trying our best to force a hearing.”
DEP spokeswoman Holly Cairns said the agency may make a decision on the hearing in the next few weeks. Although Tuesday was the official deadline for public comment, Cairns said additional input may be weighed.
Gamesa has said it has prepared an erosion sediment plan and a post-construction stormwater management plan for the development, which would be located on the border between Somerset and Bedford counties.
But opponents contend turbine construction could destroy the pristine ridgetop and harm the watershed, including Piney Run and Clear Shade Creek. The waterways are two of only 28 in the state designated as “exceptional value” trout streams.
In a prepared statement, a Gamesa official said the company would have no qualms about such a meeting.
“We consider a public hearing a part of the process and welcome the opportunity to share the facts about our project with the community,” project developer Timothy Vought said.
He added that Gamesa will adhere to the department’s permit guidelines.
“Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm has been designed to meet or exceed the water impact regulations set forth by the DEP,” he said.
By Kecia Bal
27 June 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding