This is in response to Mr. Tim Vought’s letter to the editor – Nov. 3, “Some simple facts.”
Mr. Vought states that “John Kott, is wrong to suggest 90 wind turbines will be placed on site over three phases.” Mr. Vought personally came to my home on June 21, 2006, to “sell” me on wind energy and the leasing of lands to Gamesa, lands I own in the proposed Shaffer Mountain Wind Industrialization Project.
On June 29, 2006, I sent a two-page letter to Mr. Vought in regards to his and Gamesa’s offer. This is a “quote” from that letter. “You stated (Tim Vought) that the first phase of wind-power development would consist of 30 wind-powered turbines, the first year (2007). Also, 30 more to follow in the second phase, which would be approximately two years, with other phases being considered.” You stated this would be a definite because of the vast land holdings of Berwind Corporation (7,935 + acres) which were leased to Gamesa. Berwind-Gamesa lease of Nov. 22, 2005, in effect Gamesa leases the Windber Area Authority Watershed! Mr. Vought, John Kott was definitely 100 percent right in his statement!
You state “An independent engineer testified that Gamesa’s best management practices will bring a net benefit to the watershed after construction.” Let me remind you that you and Gamesa wanted to locate a concrete batch – plant for the entire project at the Iron Bridge on Clear Shade Creek an Exceptional Value Stream!
Your proposed “lay-down” area, for the entire project, documented in your plans and mappings filed with Somerset Soil Conservation and DEP would have clear-cut 10-15 acres or more approximately 100 feet from another Exceptional Value Stream – Piney Run! Also, your and Gamesa’s plan to “hang” an inclined highway from the valley floor to the top of Crum Ridge is nothing more than major degradation! Imagine a 60-foot wide road traversing up the ridge – how high will the “High-Wall” be and also the height of the “fill side!” If these are examples of your and Gamesa’s “best management practices” Lord help Shaffer Mountain!
You than personally – in you letter – try to degrade the entire Shaffer Mountain area. You state “this is not an untouched wilderness.” You talk about an active stone quarry adjacent to Gamesa’s development but you conveniently leave out the fact that this quarry is on the fringe of the development and borders the thousands of acres of “stripped” land owned by Berwind Corporation. Site your Wind-Turbines on that “stripped” land, after all – you leased it – didn’t you?
Also in regards to that quarry, it is contained on flat land. Gamesa’s Wind Turbines will be spread-out over a vast area with turbine clearings, inter-connecting roads and transmission lines. All placed upon the many ridges within Shaffer Mountain with soil erosion being the foremost concern, as well as the destruction of the forest, forest surface, and fragile eco-system!
Your quote “There is significant damage to the timber in many portions of the mountain from recent infestations of gypsy moths.” Mr. Vought, our problems with gypsy moths in the area were in the early 1980s. The mountain has recovered quite nicely.
Again, your quote, “The Windber Area Authority has cut down almost as many trees over the past several years on Shaffer Mountain than Gamesa will cut for it is entire wind project.” Upon reading this quote, I thought my eyes were deceiving me, so I read it again. This statement is not only false, it is also absurd.
In closing, your letter to the editor, “Some simple facts” turns out to be another Gamesa “smoke-screen” containing nothing more than spin, half-truths, and in some cases such as the Windber Area Authorities cutting of timber – totally false and untrue statements!
Joseph J. Cominsky
14 November 2007
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