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North East wind farm critics to raise concerns

Residents concerned about a proposed wind farm in North East Township plan to raise those concerns with township officials tonight.

Township planners will meet at 7 p.m. at the township municipal building, 10300 W. Main Road. Township supervisors meet at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re going to ask a series of questions that really demand answers and so far have not been addressed,” said Paul Crowe, of Neighbors for a Responsible North East.

The group’s concerns include setbacks between wind turbines and neighboring properties, turbine noise and shadows, noise and heavy equipment in North East during construction, and a potential drop in neighboring property values, Crowe said.

“This project is on a scale we’ve never seen in North East. It would change North East, and yet we have been told almost nothing about it and have had nothing to say about it,” he said.

Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy began leasing property for a commercial wind farm south of Interstate 90 two years ago. Its original plan to build as many as 75 turbines to power about 45,000 homes recently was pared to 10 to 20 turbines, company officials said.

Where those turbines might be built is a major concern, Crowe said.

“This isn’t Kansas or Nebraska. We have a mix of farms and residential neighborhoods here. A lot of houses would be close to turbines built on farms,” Crowe said.

Property owners who have leased land for the proposed wind farm and wind energy proponents support the project.

“I think we’re in the midst of an energy revolution, whether we know it or not,” said Stephen Porter, co-chairman of the Northwest Pennsylvania Green Economy Task Force. “Fossil fuels have gotten us pretty far but need to be complemented by diverse energy sources.”

Porter, of Fairview Township, disputes claims that wind turbines are noisy or otherwise disruptive and that wind farms adversely affect neighboring property values.

“Some people respond viscerally to this stuff and have a negative reaction, aesthetic or otherwise, to turbines. Others, including me, think that they are graceful, beautiful and symbolic of something important and good,” he said.

Township officials in coming weeks will consider an ordinance regulating wind farm development in the township. The ordinance would restrict wind turbines to the southern portion of the township and set minimum setbacks between turbines and neighboring roads and property lines.