Butler Township officials are trying to construct a wind turbine ordinance before construction of a proposed wind farm takes place.
That in itself is difficult.
“We understand alternative energy is a direction the state is moving in,” said attorney Donald Karpowich, township zoning hearing board solicitor. But because the state’s interest is a new concept for municipalities, designing an ordinance to protect the municipalities becomes a bit difficult, he said.
Karpowich said municipalities have zoning ordinances that prevent problems with construction. None of the ordinances address wind turbines or wind farms.
Gamesa Energy USA, with an office in Philadelphia, plans to test wind direction and speed on Nescopeck Mountain to see if a farm is feasible.
Butler Township already approved plans for Gamesa to construct a meteorological tower to measure wind.
The company wants to establish a wind farm on a ridge of the mountain in portions of Butler, Nescopeck, Hollenback and Dorrance townships. Testing usually takes a year and if results come back good and municipalities don’t reject the proposal, the farm could happen.
Karpowich said Butler doesn’t want to prohibit wind farms but wants to restrict where they are established to protect the township, its residents and neighboring communities.
The ordinance will also address individual turbines as well as wind farms, but treat both situations separately, Karpowich said.
He plans to contact all the municipalities involved in the Gamesa project to see if the four can come up with similar ordinances.
“This is so new in Pennsylvania it’s incredible. It’s moving fast and it’s big,” Butler Township property owner Marguerite Woelfel said during a work session held Tuesday night to begin work on the ordinance.
The township decided to hold work sessions with members of the zoning hearing board, planning commission and supervisors in an effort to design an ordinance. The next meeting will be Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the township building, prior to the zoning hearing board meeting.
The zoning meeting scheduled for Tuesday night was continued to Dec. 27 at 7:30 p.m. That hearing will include an appeal to a zoning officer’s issuance of an enforcement notice against Jim Lagana Construction and Real Estate. Lagana had a death in the family and could not attend Tuesday’s session.
By Amanda Christman
3 December 2007
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