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Penn Forest residents protesting turbine plan

Penn Forest Township residents are banding together to fight a proposal for a 40-unit wind turbine farm that would be built along the border with Towamensing Township.

Penn Forest Township has scheduled a zoning hearing board meeting at 7 p.m. May 12 to consider an application by Atlantic Wind to construct a massive, 40-unit wind turbine farm in Penn Forest Township right along the border of Towamensing Township.

The wind turbine tests that first came to light in June 2013 have now become a possibility, and from the word on the street and on social media, the residents of Penn Forest and neighboring Towamensing are not happy.

“What would this mean to us? Who will this benefit?” said Dennis Steirer of Albrightsville. “Is the community going to benefit at all? We were blindsided by a big company coming in here and trying to do this, for what, for who?”

These are the kinds of questions popping up on the Facebook page, “Say NO to Bethlehem Watershed Wind Farm project!”

Contributors have posted questions and some have posted links to website and research that show the negative effects that wind turbines have on the environment and local wildlife.

In June 2013, attorney Denise Yarnoff addressed the Penn Forest Township supervisors on behalf of Atlantic Wind LLC.

Yarnoff was requesting a permit under the special use exception to construct a two temporary meteorological towers to collect meteorological data on property belonging to the Bethlehem Watershed Authority.

Atlantic Wind is a division of Iberdrola Renewables, a company which harvests wind energy. At the time, Yarnoff said that of the hundreds of sites tested, only about 10 percent meet the necessary criteria for wind turbines and that it was unlikely that anything would come of the testing in Penn Forest Township.

Last November Atlantic Wind received permission to add additional test towers on the site.

The township has yet to respond to any Right To Know requests involving the project, but rumors are spreading like a spring wildfire.

What is known is that there are to be up to 40 turbines and that they are expected to be of a newer generation, with estimates ranging from 400 to 525 feet in height.

The Facebook page, “Say NO to Bethlehem Watershed Wind Farm project!” is seeing a lot of traffic as residents of both townships try to get the word out.

“You will be able to see these monsters from anywhere in the community. It’s disgusting what they are trying to do. I completely agree that the land and all the nearby residents’ lives will be extremely impacted in the most negative ways,” wrote Alysaa Boozan in response to a discussion on the size of the turbines.

The Penn Forest Township Supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. today at the township building.