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Windmill plan hits sour note in Fayette  

Fayette County commissioners Thursday expanded a directive to review the county’s zoning ordinance regarding windmills and wind turbines after a Springhill man addressed the board about his concerns twice in one week.

Yesterday Thomas J. Bozek III repeated much of what he said at the board’s agenda meeting Tuesday, expressing concern about noise levels he believes would result from turbines placed within 700 feet of his property.

A musician, Bozek said he’d purchased expensive recording equipment but that he believed the turbines’ decibel levels would interfere with his attempts to record music.

Iberdrola Renewables, formerly PPM Energy, wants to place 27 wind-powered turbines over a 3.5-mile section of Chestnut Ridge in Wharton, Georges and Springhill townships. The turbines would generate electricity for the company’s South Chestnut Ridge Windpower Project.

Bozek said he was concerned that the commissioners’ original agenda item to amend the ordinance restricting tower height to 250 feet to “reflect the industry standard height of 80 meters or 262.5 feet” could set a precedent.

“What’s to stop another company from coming in and saying, ‘We’d like to place turbines and they’re just a little bit higher.’ … Where do you draw the line at height?” Bozek said.

“Everything that you are saying should be heard,” Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink said. “But the item on the agenda is specifically for the commissioners to ask the planning commission to look at the windmill section of the ordinance and make recommendations back to us. They may say leave it alone. They may recommend a change. … We don’t know that yet.”

Commissioner Vincent Vicites commended Iberdrola Renewables for working with residents near the proposed turbine locations.

“I know a lot of this has been worked out with others and I think that’s great and that was what I was hoping would happen,” Vicites said.

Zimmerlink’s proposal, which the board passed, was for the planning commission to review the ordinance and make recommendations the members find necessary, possibly including height restrictions, setbacks and decibel levels.

The board also agreed yesterday to authorize a voter purge.

But the original plan to use proceeds from the sale of some of the county’s electronic voting machines will not be used to fund the purge.

The board said officials with the Help America Vote Act said the money should be used for upgrades or purchasing a new voting system only.

The board will look at the general fund and make necessary transfers upon confirmation of the controller’s office, Zimmerlink said.

The cost is estimated at $22,000.

“This is very important,” Vicites said. “I can’t think of anything more important to make a transfer on.”

Election Bureau director Laurie Lint said the process must be completed – meaning all approximately 25,000 inactive voters must be notified – by Aug. 6, within 90 days of the fall election.

Voters who wish to remain on the rolls will be asked to return notices in postage-paid envelopes provided by the county.

Also yesterday, the board extended through Aug. 31 an agreement between the county, Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation and Edenfield Stages.

The original agreement expired in June, and commissioners questioned the transportation business’ ability to continue providing service.

The federal government in January filed tax liens totaling more than $600,000 against Edenfield through the company’s Greensburg office. The liens were filed for failure to make payroll taxes dating to 2005, according to documents filed with the Fayette County Prothonotary’s office.

An Edenfield representative who attended the commissioners’ meeting said the liens were not affecting day-to-day operations, and that a payment plan had been initiated to pay the taxes due.

By August, Zimmerlink said, the board will need to make a decision to ensure the county can continue to provide transportation.

Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky asked Edenfield representatives to submit a financial plan to show how the tax liability will be addressed.

“Show us you’re going to stay in business,” he said.

David Stewart, Pennsylvania spokesman for the IRS, said the department could not confirm personal or business tax records, other than what is filed with local courts. He noted the liens are “a snapshot” of the time they were filed, and circumstances, such as payment plans, could have changed. If and when liens are satisfied, Stewart said, a release form would be filed with the original documents.

Messages left with Edenfield’s Greensburg office were not returned yesterday.

By Mary Pickels

Tribune-Review

25 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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