Close to 75 people packed the Penn Forest Township supervisors meeting Monday evening to voice concern over a proposed wind turbine project.
Atlantic Wind LLC has applied for a special exception permit to build up to 40 wind turbines near the Towamensing Township line, and residents have been spreading the news via Facebook and word of mouth.
Attorney Thomas Nanovic instructed residents that the supervisors were giving them the floor to comment on the project.
“You may each have 3 minutes to say what you want the supervisors to hear,” Nanovic said. He added, “I have advised the supervisors to not comment and to not engage in any discussion about the project, and this is for two reasons. The first being that there is currently nothing before this board for approval, at this time the special exception application is before the zoning hearing board and that meeting will be on May 12.”
Nanovic said a “development plan” could come before the board in the future.
“Making any comments or discussing their personal views on the project could result in a supervisor being asked to recuse themselves from voting on the development plan. Now I only advise them, it is up to the supervisors to decide what they will do.”
About a dozen residents spoke about the project. “Have you ever heard of economic obsolescence?” asked Phillip Nelson of Towamensing Trails. “I have been in the mortgage business for many years, and there are already too many homes in foreclosure in this area. I have seen these plans and I will tell you, people will just walk away from their homes.”
He added, “They will stay one to one and a half years, not pay their mortgage or their taxes and then walk, because their homes will lose 15 percent of its value the first year, and 15 percent the second year and after that it slows down, but it continues to decline. People did not invest their saving and retire here to look at that.”
Other residents expressed their concerns with the impact on wildlife.
“This project is right behind my house,” said Bill Tagye.
“Do you know how many birds are killed in the United States every year by these turbines? And bats. Bats eat up to 500 insects per hour. Bats implode when they are near the windmills. Their lungs burst.”
David Kocis of Towamensing Township brought a scaled model with him to make it easier for those present to get a clear picture of the project.
“This is an example of corporate greed disguised as green energy,” said Kocis. “Use your heart and soul and deny this.”
“We are organizing our community against this project,” said Hank Orlandini. “We hike and hunt this ridge. This isn’t green energy, it takes oil to run turbines. We are going to fight this, and we are asking you to stand behind your residents.”
Many others spoke and each person who did was applauded by those who listened to them.
Residents spoke about why they chose to live in the area, of the forests, the mountains and the pristine water.
Some spoke about the impact on the wildlife, not just once the project is complete, but of the deforestation during the construction phase and the loss of habitat. Some are worried about blasting during the construction phase as well. One resident, Jean Nelson is concerned about the effects on people’s health and suggested residents learn about Wind Turbine Syndrome.
A resident of Beltzville Lake Estates shared his concerns about additional water flowing into the area.
“Anyone who has been there when it rains knows that we have water issues,” Phillip Woolf said. “In a good rain, my yard is 6 inches deep. When you remove all those trees from the ridge, can you image what that is going to do.”
The supervisors listened to what the residents had to say.
“Do not take the supervisors silence as their support, or their lack of support for this project,” Nanovic said. “In fact, their silence should be construed as a good thing. They are concerned, they do care and they want to make sure that when the time comes they can make a fair and just decision.”