Residents fighting a proposed wind turbine farm in Penn Forest Township got a victory Wednesday night when the Lehighton Water Authority unanimously voted against leasing land to Iberdrola Renewables, parent company for Atlantic Wind.
Three of 40 turbines were proposed for the land with the remaining 37 on Bethlehem Water Authority Property.
“It is our policy not to lease any of our property on a permanent or temporary basis and we are maintaining that,” water authority Chairman David Harleman said of the vote.
Before the vote, several residents urged the group to take such action, which was met by a standing ovation and cries of “three down, 37 to go.”
“Mr. Poff (director of business development for Iberdrola Renewables) told us he was confident this project would pass,” said a passionate Hank Orlandini. “Well, we’re just as confident we’re going to defeat it.”
The turbines, as tall as 525 feet, would be between Route 903 and Towamensing Township. The site crosses over Reservoir Road to the northeast of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Bill Mauro, of the Hickory Run Forest Development, led off Wednesday’s meeting by pointing out a “waiver of nuisance” in Iberdrola’s lease with the Bethlehem Water Authority.
In the waiver, the company acknowledges that turbines will result in higher noise levels than currently occur and flickering shadow reflections, Mauro said.
“Residents near other turbine farms have also experienced health issues and this will negatively impact properly values.”
Mauro’s house is within 2,000 feet of the planned turbines, which are located at least 1,000 feet apart.
“I really want to thank Lehighton Water Authority for doing the right thing,” he said.
Other opponents spoke of the lasting impact of a decision to lease land to Iberdrola.
“There is no way to put back the trees and rebuild the habitat,” they said.
Marcus Laurence toured the Locust Ridge Wind Farm, owned by Iberdrola, near Mahanoy City and neighboring residents.
One resident who lives downwind from the turbine, he said, had to switch his living room and dining room because of the “strobe light” effects the shadow flickering had in the morning.
“These towers can cast a shadow over 3 miles long and for several hours a day; that flicker will range over a mile,” Laurence said.
Of the authority’s decision, Laurence said, “It’s evidence that when people have to live within the shadow of their consequences, they make smarter decisions.”
Orlandini said he and his wife lost sleep ever since hearing about the proposed turbines. They and others aim to keep the Stony Mountain Ridge “one of the most beautiful places in the area.”
“I think we’re going to win this fight and we could use you guys to do the right thing first,” Joe McCormick told the authority.
Atlantic Wind is set to be back before the Penn Forest Township Zoning Hearing Board on June 23 as it seeks a special exception to allow the project.
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