Penn Forest Township supervisors voted Monday evening to proceed with an ordinance that will govern the use of wind turbines in the township, and to send it on for review by the township’s planning commission and the Carbon County Planning Commission.
After some township residents queried zoning officer Joe Steber about constructing wind turbines to power their properties, a workshop was held by the supervisors in June to discuss the possibilities. While the board agreed it was unlikely even a dozen such homeowners would proceed with the pricey alternative, which could cost around $30,000 by the time a unit is installed, they reviewed ordinances for wind energy conversion systems from other townships and the state.
Although a draft of the ordinance had been prepared by township solicitor Tom Nanovic following the June workshop, it appeared at first Monday that the board was not prepared to move forward. Chairman Harry Connolly said he would like more time to study the pros and cons of the ordinance before it would be enacted. Supervisor Judith Knappenberger, who was not able to attend the workshop, had questions about the length of the blades and the maximum height of the units.
Supervisor Josiah Behrens pointed out that while the specifics were not included in the ordinance, the size of the lot would limit the size of the tower.
“We discussed this at the workshop,” stated Behrens. “The height of the structure can only be so high. The tower has to be 110 percent from the property line or any other buildings.” That being the case, it would be unlikely that properties under two acres would qualify, and given that the turbines would have to exceed the tree canopy, which reaches to 50 and 60 feet in some areas, even more properties would be eliminated.
According to township resident Paul Montemuro, owner of Frosty Mountain Beverage and a candidate for township supervisor, the standard size of the blades for a wind turbine for home use is 7 feet, with a total span of 14 feet. Montemuro plans to build a new home on about 50 acres in the township, and would like to install a 28-foot wind turbine. If it works as he expects it will, he plans to install one at his business to cut down on his electric usage there, which can run as high as $700 a month.
By Karen Cimms
7 August 2007
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