Tyrone Borough resident and concerned citizen Bob Roseberry addressed borough council last evening during the public comment forum on the issue of Gamesa Energy USA’s proposed 25 unit wind farm on Ice Mountain.
Roseberry, along with a handful of other residents, have been diligently petitioning Tyrone residents who oppose the 10-15 unit wind farm on the borough’s watershed property. For those who might have noticed, he is the man that sits in front of the white van at the bottom of Clay Avenue and Hoover’s Lane.
As of last night, Roseberry handed council 1,195 signatures from residents in the 16686 area code, which didn’t include many signatures from people outside Tyrone who he said wanted to sign the petition.
“I’m here to represent the people of Tyrone area who are opposed to the leasing of the watershed property to Gamesa for the purpose of the wind farm,” stated Roseberry to council.
Roseberry and others obtained the 1,195 signatures in three and a half weeks, and he said that they are going to keep on getting signatures until council decides to vote on Gamesa’s proposal.
The signatures on the petition were given to council so the signatures can be reviewed, although council is not sure as of last night on how the signatures can be validated – and will have to take that issue into consideration.
“I’m pleased, but I’m a little edgy about it because I think council is going to turn down our petitions,” said Roseberry. “They’ll probably call them illegal because we didn’t do it as a legal document. It might not be that way I hope.”
Roseberry added that he does think the people have spoken and that the people of Tyrone are definitely speaking out; saying that “they did a good job for three and a half weeks with a handful of people’s time.”
Mayor James Kilmartin was excited the community has responded in the way they have, noting that some in the community have really taken action, and applauded them for that.
“I think it will weigh heavily on council’s decision after seeing the petitions and hearing the voices that have been brought forth,” said Kilmartin.
He added, “We want to hear what the borough residents say because they are the ones who elected us, but we also want to hear what the township and surrounding areas say because it’s still the Tyrone community – we want to hear both sides.”
Councilperson Jennifer Bryan says she is still looking at the monetary side of Gamesa’s proposal, which she added is still in negotiation, and because of the Chesapeake Bay Tributary issue that could increase borough residents’ monthly bills.
Gamesa’s proposal as it stands now would pay the borough $60,000-$90,000 annually under a 29 year, 11 month contract, or three percent of the gross annual electricity revenue.
“We need to find other ways to obtain revenue and this is why I’m really looking into it,” said Bryan. “But are we completely sold on it? No. And I don’t think anybody on council is.”
Bryan added that she will take the petitions under advisement seriously and thinks the petitions were done in the accurate way.
“I’m also looking at it as I’ve been to Blue Knob and saw what Gamesa has done, and I think they’re a reputable company,” said Bryan. “Nothing has shown me that they’re not yet, but I could be wrong on that.”
Councilperson Bill Latchford was a little surprised on how many signatures were compiled, but noted that Roseberry and others are working really hard and they’re passionate about their cause.
“Knowing that they said they worked in the 16686 area code makes it a little bit rough for us to figure out the validity of it, but I’m proud of them,” said Latchford.
The validity of the signatures is a concern for Latchford, but he said if it was only 75 percent of the 1,195 who signed and live in the borough, that’s still around 800 people from the borough, which is a large majority to him.
“If I could vote now, I’d probably say ‘no’ just because people are putting something to it,” said Latchford. “But other than that, once we figure out how to see how valid the signatures are, that’s what we want to go with.”
Latchford suggested validating the signatures could be done in some sort of statistical manner, perhaps working with the borough’s lawyer Larry Clapper to find out how to validate the names. He admitted again if there’s no way to do that, it would be rough to decide the validity.
“I think we should take it for a bunch of people working hard for a cause they really believe in,” said Latchford. “Along the lines of legality, it’s not a point of misrepresentation, it’s just a point that maybe this name wasn’t quite done right or maybe they may not of done it correctly, versus them just going out and writing a bunch of names on it.”
Latchford does feel the borough headlines the progress of wind farms by Gamesa on the mountain tops in the area. He said if the borough says “no” that could possibly affect other boroughs and townships with its votes if or when approached about wind development. If they vote “yes,” he said it could be a trickle down effect on the ridge tops having wind mills erected.
Roseberry hopes council takes the petition signatures for what they are worth – the majority of Tyrone residents do not want Gamesa’s wind farm proposal.
“We’re going to keep on petitioning and try to get more people, get more literature out,” stated Roseberry. “That’s the biggest thing that people in Tyrone need; to be informed on the good and the bad about the wind farm.”
The borough gave no indication on when council would vote on Gamesa’s wind farm proposal, citing that Councilpersons Patricia Stoner and Mark Kosoglow need to be caught up to speed with the project.
By Kris Yaniello
8 January 2008
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