After two years, an ordinance regulating commercial wind farms is in place in Snyder Township.
”I feel it’s a pretty good ordinance,” Charlie Diehl, chairman of the three-man board of supervisors, said Monday after the unanimous vote to approve the 21-page ordinance.
Diehl said he thought the regulations were fair, and he stressed that although they’re not perfect, the rules are meant to look after the interests of the residents while allowing for the development of wind power in the township.
Gamesa USA has proposed a 25-turbine wind farm that would be situated predominately in Snyder Township.
Josh Framel, project developer for the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm, said after the vote that the ordinance was ”balanced.”
”I think it’s right in the middle,” Framel said.
Supervisor Jim Burket said his initial concerns about the ordinance’s setbacks were addressed in the final draft, and he’s more confident that neighboring properties – either in the short term or 30 years from now – won’t be unfairly affected by wind farm development.
After a visit to the Gamesa-built Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm near Blue Knob, Burket said he feels better about the wind farm – something fellow supervisor Robert Nelson agreed with.
”I had hard feelings about it until I went up there and heard it and saw it,” Nelson said.
Noise was one issue mentioned throughout the revision process during the last several months, with supervisors settling on a 45-decibel noise limit for the turbines.
Resident Helen Mengle told supervisors during the public comment period prior to the vote that she was concerned about the long-term consequences of wind turbines, particularly if something were to happen to disable or topple one of the 40-story structures.
Diehl said the ordinance addresses decommissioning by requiring wind farm developers to post a bond at the start of the permitting processes to cover the cost of tearing them down and restoring the site should owners neglect the job.
Public roads used by companies developing wind farms also will be covered by the ordinance, with bonding required by developers in case of damages.
Burket said wind farms also are subject to state and federal regulations concerning clean-up of hydraulic oil and other concerns raised by Mengle.
Township solicitor David Pertile said the ordinance ”isn’t perfect” but is ”adequate protection” for the township.
”I can’t see what else we could do about unforeseen events,” he said.
By Greg Bock
8 July 2008
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