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Springhill Township man concerned about proposed wind turbine project  

A Springhill Township man concerned that his sound recording equipment may be rendered useless if a proposed wind turbine project is built near his home brought his concerns Tuesday to the Fayette County commissioners.

Thomas John Bozek III, who lives on Wymps Gap Road, asked the commissioners to “consider the people the proposed project is going to affect.”

“I’m asking you to protect my investment, my property and my life. All I want to do is be left alone and play my music,” Bozek said.

A proposed plan to construct 24 wind turbines to harness electricity is on hold pending the results of a court ruling. Earlier this year the county zoning hearing board denied a special exception request by PPM Atlantic Energy/Iberdrola Renewables that would have allowed the project to commence on the mountain in the townships of Georges and Springhill. The Wharton Township Zoning Hearing Board voted in favor of allowing the six turbines proposed for that township but the project can’t move forward without all the windmills.

PPM has appealed the ruling, suggesting the zoning board should not have denied the request.

The zoning ordinance allows wind turbines, but sets a maximum height of 250 feet. The current industry standard is 262.5 feet.

Bozek said he finds it ironic that he told his friends when he purchased his property he was getting peace of mind.

“I feel that I’m going to get stuck,” Bozek said, adding that settlement stipulations have been circulated that may pave the way for the project to move forward. Bozek is the only property owner that intervened in the case that hasn’t been satisfied with concessions from PPM that have included scrapping plans for some turbines and moving the sites of others.

Bozek said he only has one neighbor who lives in Ohio and is hardly ever at his weekend home. He said the closest turbine is slated for 1,953 feet away from his home, but he is concerned about how sound travels, adding that his property is a “bowl” shape topography.

Bozek added that he did decibel readings at wind turbines in Somerset County and they were as high as 85 decibels.

“I think the (recommended level of) noise will be exceeded and recording equipment will pick that up and would be rendered useless. For me, there’s a lot of problems,” Bozek said.

Bozek pointed out that he is surrounded by thousands of acres of Neil Brown Lumber and Coastal Lumber property.

He said the windmills produce a constant rumble that he would have to live with.

Later in the agenda meeting, the commissioners voted to place a motion on Thursday’s agenda to consider directing the office of planning and zoning to begin the procedure to amend the zoning ordinance, specifically the section regarding windmill/wind turbine to reflect the industry standard height of 262.5 feet. The motion also includes a stipulation inserted by Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink to add any other recommendation that the planning commission deems necessary.

Gary Verkleeren, senior business developer for PPM Energy/Iberdrola Renewables, who attended the meeting, credited the commissioners for doing the things necessary to keep the ordinance current.

“We take that as an encouraging sign that the leaders of the county see wind energy as an important element in the local economy,” Verkleeren said.

Verkleeren is a Fayette County resident and serves on the Fayette County Planning Commission.

Verkleeren said he would recuse himself from making any recommendations regarding the height of wind turbines and would abstain from any voting on matters pertaining to the proposed project.

By Amy Zalar

The Herald Standard

23 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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