The Foster Township Planning Commission wants to hear from an energy company before deciding whether wind turbines proposed for three sections of the community comply with the township’s land development and comprehensive plans.
The planning commission voted unanimously to continue its meeting Thursday to give representatives from EDF Renewable Energy an opportunity to present “perceived benefits” of the project and respond to numerous questions and concerns from the public.
A date and time for the continuance will be announced when they are agreed upon by EDF representatives and the planning commission, according to planning Solicitor Kevin Walsh.
Commission Chairman Jeff Searfoss reluctantly agreed to the continuance after Matt Carmody, an attorney for EDF, announced that representatives from the energy company were not in attendance because they weren’t notified of Thursday’s meeting.
The zoning board continued a hearing regarding EDF’s plans a few weeks ago, but Carmody said that neither the board nor its solicitor informed company representatives and attorneys familiar with the project about the meeting with the planners
Carmody said he was asked to attend the meeting on short notice and asked the planning commission to hold off on making a recommendation to the zoning board until company representatives have an opportunity to address the public and share plans.
“It was just by happenstance they learned about the meeting,” Carmody said. “The applicant is out of town today but would be glad to come here and address the board’s concerns and residents’ concerns as well.”
More than 50 people packed the township building Thursday. Every seat was taken and some residents stood along a wall at the back of the room.
Many of the residents spoke in opposition of EDP’s proposal, which involves building up to 25, 500-foot-tall wind turbines in three parts of the township. According to Searfoss, the turbines would be built on reclaimed mine land near Eckley, on the Green Mountain in Upper Lehigh and on Buck Mountain. Most of the land is owned by Pagnotti Enterprises.
While residents spent more than an hour sharing concerns for how the turbines would impact property values and potentially create quality of life and health issues, Searfoss explained that objectors or residents with questions will have an opportunity to share them and present testimony to the zoning hearing board.
The planning commission was asked by the zoning board to issue a recommendation whether the proposed turbine project meets land development criteria and complies with the township’s long-term comprehensive plan, Searfoss said.
The commission does not issue final approval. The zoning board and supervisors must approve of the project.