QUEMAHONING TOWNSHIP – A wind turbine ordinance is back on the table with supervisors now that the new board has settled into their positions.
The issue has languished since May of 2007, when supervisors announced a public meeting to discuss residents feelings on the move.
Monday, resident Mike Kern, of Koontz Road, asked supervisors to reconsider drafting an ordinance during the township meeting. The supervisors agreed that the matter was long overdue.
“We don’t want to stop development and we need to do whatever we can to protect the residents,” said Chairman Allan Griffith. “But there has to be a happy medium.”
Kern expressed concerns with letting wind developers build constrained by only county codes for the placement of turbines because those deal primarily with setback issues and limiting the distance that a turbine may be placed near an occupied dwelling.
“I just think that there are safety issues and property issues that are not being taken into account,” he said.
He pointed to the controversy in Cambria and Blair Counties with the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm where residents and public officials have leveled noise complaints against developer Babcock & Brown.
Kern said that any ordinance adopted in Quemahoning should force the developer to pay for studies on potential noise violations if they are faced with reasonable complaints.
He also submitted a number of ordinance models to the board for review.
Supervisors said they would also look at the ordinances of nearby townships like Shade.
In 2006, Shade enacted a windmill ordinance requiring the turbine must have a setback of three times the hub height from the nearest property line of a non-participating landowner.
Also, the noise level generated from the structure is not to exceed 45 decibels from the nearest property line of a non-participating landowner.
Allegheny Township took steps to protect seasonal cabins with their ordinance. Their setback section protects unoccupied buildings from nearby turbine placement, many of which are seasonal cabins used for recreation.
Getting a handle on public sentiment for regulating turbine development became easier after a series of public meetings regarding the Flight 93 corridor study last year.
While talking to the organizers of the Flight 93 National Memorial Planning and Design Corridor Study, hundreds of residents made one thing clear, they didn’t want zoning, excepting for windmills.
Griffith, said the proposal had been put off for too long.
“This is something we have to come up with,” he said.
By Dan DiPaolo
16 April 2008
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