Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, residents came out in full force Thursday evening to express disapproval of a proposal by Iberdrole Renewable to build 40 wind turbines near a housing development in the township.
Roughly 299 area residents packed the Penn Forest Township Volunteer Fire Co. #1 to hear testimony during the township zoning hearing board in regard to the proposal. Volunteer fire company personnel had to turn individuals away because of occupancy limits inside. At one point, personnel locked the doors so no one could enter.
Iberdrole Renewable, which does business locally as Atlantic Wind, is looking to build the 525 foot high wind turbines on a 10,000 acre swath of land leased from the Bethlehem Authority. The site is located on 903 and Towamensing Township.
While much of the meeting was centered around zoning board examination and cross examination of witnesses, residents in the beginning of the meeting strongly disagreed with Attorney Don Miles of Bethlehem, Lehigh County, who supports the project.
Proponents of the wind turbine farm have argued it provides for a clean, natural resource, consumes no water, does not use fossil fuels and provides additional electrical energy to the grid.
Miles, who spoke on behalf of the Sierra Club, said the organization supports the project
According to Miles, wind turbines, pursuant to the township zoning ordinance, are an approved special exception use.
Miles noted there is no evidence that wind turbines will reduce property values. Miles also argued any concern with noise is not based on fact.
“The sound of turbines reaching homes will not disrupt lives,” he said.
Miles also said the developer must comply with various state and federal regulations regarding the natural habitat on the proposed site.
“Wind turbines are urgently needed in Pennsylvania,” Miles said.
“The Sierra Club urges you to approve the special exception use,” he added, as many in the audience vocalized their disapproval. One resident even shouted out, “Go home, go home!”
Attorney Theodore Lewis requested the testimony of Miles be stricken from the record due to his statements not being subject to cross examination.
Lewis said there exists flaws in the zoning application.
“I heard no testimony about traffic,” he said. “There really is no talk about safety. They haven’t complied with the specific requirements of zoning.”
Residents and opponents who live near the proposed wind mill farm continue to argue placement of the wind mills will decrease property values, create noise beyond the acceptable decibel limits allowed by the ordinance and destroy the natural habitat, which includes an older forest home to animals such as birds, deer and black beer.
Marie Ryals, who lives near the proposed site, said she is concerned with the project’s impact on the community.
“There go the property values,” she said, adding values will decrease. “The noise will be constant.”
Iberdrola was represented by attorney Debra Shulski.
Township resident Christopher Mangold, who also lives near the site, was represented by attorney Bruce Anders of Wilkes-Barre.
As previously reported, the city will receive three percent of the gross revenue the company earns from selling electricity produced by the turbines.
Thursday evening’s zoning hearing board concluded at 9:45 p.m. The board will continue the hearing 7 p.m. July 14 at the fire company complex.
[Note: the company’s name is Iberdrola –NWW ed.]
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