May 7, 2013

Residents to question proposed North East wind farm tonight

By VALERIE MYERS, Erie Times-News | Published: May 7, 2013 |

NORTH EAST – A proposed wind farm is at the center of a squall in North East Township.

About three dozen residents attended township planning commission and supervisors’ meetings Monday night, many of them to discuss a Texas company’s plan to build 10 to 20 giant wind turbines south of Interstate 90.

Matt Putman, of Neighbors for a Responsible North East, asked township planners to consider requiring bigger setbacks between turbines and neighboring properties and to consider turbine “fallout,” including ground vibration, shadow flicker and impacts on neighboring property values.

“A simple power line or cell phone tower can affect neighboring property values, and these will be giant turbines,” Putman said.

Putman also asked planners and supervisors to consider ordinances from other municipalities in the state before approving an ordinance for North East Township.

“I think that we need to learn more before we make any decisions,” he said.

Local landowners have the right to lease land for turbines, and the annual lease fees could help sustain local farms, said Johnny Walker, of Pioneer Green Energy, of Austin. The company hopes to build the wind farm to generate electricity to sell to the Northeastern power grid.

“Farmers are under more and more pressure every generation, needing more and more land and more and more equipment. They’re not going to get rich leasing land for turbines, but it might be enough to augment their income and let them pass their farms along to the next generation,” Walker said.

Township supervisors are still considering a proposal to regulate wind turbines in the township, Supervisor Gus Neff said.

“We want to make sure we do a good job and do this right,” he said.

Supervisors hope to consider an ordinance in mid-June, he said.

“We got a draft ordinance two weeks ago. We’re in the process of looking at it and figuring out if we want to adopt it, change it or dismiss it,” Supervisor Vernon Frye said.

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