Potter County’s official land use planning organization finds itself in the crossfire of the wind farm debate.
As a result of the divergent opinions being expressed, the Potter County Planning Commission (PCPC) has scheduled a forum on the issue for its next monthly meeting, to be held Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 6:00 p.m. in the County Planning Office at Maple View (24 Buffalo Street).
At their December meeting, PCPC members got an earful from Art Kear, who lives near one of the proposed sites for location of the wind turbines. From an aesthetic perspective, Kear said, the wind farm would be a “tragedy (that) will destroy the county.” On the other side of the debate was Jim Hoopes, a long-time Ulysses area farmer who has agreed to lease land to the wind energy developer.
Hoopes defended the wind farm, pointing out that wind energy is a sensible alternative to the coal-burning or nuclear powered generating facilities for production of electricity. PCPC Chair Wanda Shirk assured both sides that they’ll have ample opportunity to be heard during the Jan. 9 meeting.
The Planning Commission is in the process of completing its comprehensive plan, a document that inventories the county and can lead to measures that control and guide land development, such as zoning ordinances or stronger subdivision regulations.
AES Corporation, a wind energy developer, wants to erect 79 large turbines to generate electricity in Ulysses and and Hector townships. The turbines will be more than 400 feet tall, their blades whirling at upwards of 200 miles per hour under favorable wind conditions.
A citizens organization calling itself “Save God’s Country” has formed to battle the wind farm. “They must be stopped,” said group spokesman Herb Miller.
He cites the following objections: negative impact on wildlife; noise pollution; ground vibration; construction of new roads and transmission lines; alterations in local water flow; shadow flicker; declining property values; damaging health effects; negative impact on tourism; visual intrusion on the landscape and absence of any direct energy benefits for Potter County.
“We understand that there is an energy crisis and that alternatives to coal and foreign oil are being sought,” he continued. “Because of this, wind power is currently the darling of state and national government and huge subsidies have been provided to encourage its development. Wind plants have become a big investment scheme . . . We’re going up against monied interests.”
He emphasized that Save God’s Country does not oppose “green solutions” to energy demands, “but these turbines will destroy a very rural, beautiful place.”
Miller’s group is calling for a letter-writing campaign targeting Gov. Ed Rendell, Congressman John Peterson, State Senator Joe Scarnati, State Assemblyman Martin Causer, Potter County officials and others.
The group can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at: Save God’s Country, P.O. Box 25, Ulysses PA 16948.
23 December 2007
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