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Action taken to stop wind turbine project

The attorney for the man opposing the South Chestnut Wind Project in Fayette County has filed action seeking to immediately halt the windmills’ construction, claiming the permits were improperly issued.

Attorney Gary Altman filed a mandamus petition in the office of the Fayette County prothonotary on Friday on behalf of Thomas J. Bozek of 875 Wymps Gap Road, Georges Township.

In the petition, Altman is seeking to have the county Office of Planning, Zoning and Community Development take action to enforce the county’s updated subdivision and land development ordinance and zoning ordinance, both enacted in 2006.

The petition is asking for the court to revoke “improperly issued zoning certificates” and building permits, to issue a cease-and-desist order to stop the wind turbine project immediately and to award Bozek all damages to which he may be entitled and costs of the suit.

The $100 million wind power project is being constructed in Georges, Springhill and Wharton townships. To date, roads have been constructed and a few of the wind turbines have been erected, but the blades have not yet been put in place.

The complaint is filed against Sara Rosiek, director of the planning office; the Fayette County Planning Commission; county commissioners Vincent A. Vicites, Vincent Zapotosky and Angela M. Zimmerlink and Fayette County. The comlaint claims the developer is in violation of a court order. A different plan that was approved is being used and that the project isn’t following all applicable laws.

PPM Atlantic Renewable LLC of Portland, Ore., which began its quest to gain approval for the wind project in 2007, is currently constructing the wind turbines, and Bozek has intervened in two previous court actions involving the project.

While the county zoning hearing board initially denied the developer’s request for special exceptions and variances that would allow the project to proceed, the Court of Common Pleas overturned those decisions.

Also, Zapotosky and Vicites voted since the initial application to change the ordinance from wind turbine projects requiring a special exception to being a permitted use. Zimmerlink voted against the change.

The petition claims a land development plan was submitted in September 2009 and was given conditional final approval by the planning commission and four conditions were supposed to be met, but they were not, and because the conditions were satisfied in 90 days, the conditional final approval lapsed.

The petition also claims the turbines are being constructed too close to the adjacent property owned by Laurel Aggregates, violating an order from Judge Steve P. Leskinen dictating that the developer must stay 425 feet from adjacent property lines.

The initial project called for 23 1.5-megawatt windmills. The petition states that Bozek’s property is in close proximity to both the proposed and actual locations of the windmills.

The petition also claims that the turbines make as much as 110 decibels of noise at their hubs and being in such close proximity to Bozek’s property will make it uninhabitable.

The county will be served a copy of the complaint and will have 30 days to respond.