Bear Creek Township supervisors plan to pass an updated zoning ordinance at their next meeting, said engineer Jack Varaly of Pasonick Engineering.
Varaly drew up the 100-plus page ordinance for the township. It will be the first of its kind passed since 1995. There are no major changes, he said, but the issue of wind parks would be addressed.
The new ordinance incorporates a 2006 zoning ordinance pertaining to wind parks, and those provisions could potentially impact Energy Unlimited’s plans to construct a 34-turbine wind park in the township.
The California firm first submitted its application in 2003. The plans have been heavily scrutinized ever since, and the battle between the firm and the township eventually found its way into court.
Energy Unlimited sued the township after the supervisors rejected the plans, after the planning commission and zoning hearing boards had already approved them. The courts ruled in favor of the township, and Varaly said Energy Unlimited has since exhausted all of its appeals.
If the project is to continue, the firm must start from scratch.
David Lamm, a spokesman for Energy Unlimited, said the company plans to resubmit. Any application, however, must be compliant with current zoning regulations, township Solicitor Bill Vinsko said.
According to the proposed ordinance:
Plans must include the deed to the site, drawings of the wind turbine structure, safety information, and noise decibel levels. The noise level is not to exceed 50 decibels.
The turbines must be set back 1,500 feet from adjoining properties or bodies of water, and must be compliant with the American National Standards Institute. They must also be certified by an agency that tests them for compliance.
The turbines must be inspected every two years, and all utility lines must be underground.
Energy Unlimited’s original plans were not subject to restrictions because the 1995 ordinance did not address wind parks. In 2006, township supervisors passed an ordinance regulating them.
Neither Lamm nor Vinsko could say what effect the regulations would have on Energy Unlimited’s latest plans. Vinsko has not seen the plans, and Lamm has not seen the ordinance.
“It’s best, if there’s a new ordinance, that I look at it before I comment on it,” said Lamm.
A public hearing on the ordinance will be held tonight at 6 at the township building. Supervisor Ruth Ann Koval did not want to address the ordinance until after the meeting.
By Heidi Ruckno
28 January 2008
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