February 23, 2008

Energy Unlimited sues Bear Creek Twp., code enforcer over wind farm rejection

Energy Unlimited Inc. wants Bear Creek Township to review an updated application for its proposed wind farm on Penobscot Mountain that was previously rejected by township supervisors.

The company filed a suit Friday in Luzerne County Court against the township and code enforcement officer Joseph Andrews for not accepting the updated application.

Despite numerous setbacks – including concern from environmentalists because of the project’s proximity to Crystal Lake and legal disputes with the township – the company contends its proposal for a 34-turbine wind farm on county-owned Theta Land is a good idea.

“We think it’s a great project,” spokesman Ed Shoener said. It will provide great, clean, renewable electricity to 16,000 homes throughout the year.”

The project has been mired in legal proceedings for the past year and a half after supervisors rejected plans.

Energy Unlimited submitted two applications for the project, one for the “front” 25 wind turbines and another for the “back” nine turbines. Supervisors rejected both proposals and Energy Unlimited appealed both cases. The state Supreme Court upheld the township’s rejection of the “front” 25 last February and denied Energy Unlimited’s appeal for a review of the case in October. The “back” nine cannot operate without the other 25 and are stuck in separate legal battles.

Friday’s filing is based on the “front” 25 and claims Andrews refused the company’s updated application on Jan. 24. The state Supreme Court in its February 2007 decision allows for a review of the revised preliminary plan, Friday’s filing states.

The suit further asks that:

n The revised preliminary land development plans be accepted and given to the township planning commission for review.

n The revised plans be submitted under the 1995 Bear Creek Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.

n The township pay all legal costs and fees in the case.

Which land development ordinance is used is crucial to Energy Unlimited’s plans. The township passed a new land development ordinance in January. In 2006, supervisors passed a wind park zoning ordinance that would greatly limit how many turbines Energy Unlimited could place on Theta Land. That ordinance limits how close turbines can be to streams or property lines.

“That’s what the courts are there for,” Shoener said when asked if the company’s plans should be considered under the old ordinance. “If there’s a dispute hopefully we can reach a decision amicably. We’re doing everything in accordance with the township ordinance. We’re just trying to figure out the rules that best allow this project.”

Attempts to reach township solicitor William Vinsko were unsuccessful.

By Coulter Jones
Staff Writer

The Citizens Voice

23 February 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/02/23/energy-unlimited-sues-bear-creek-twp-code-enforcer-over-wind-farm-rejection/