About a dozen residents brought their concerns to the Shade Township supervisors Thursday about a possible wind farm coming to the Shaffer Mountain area of Ogle and Shade townships.
In November Chicago-based energy company Invenergy submitted plans to the Somerset County Planning Commission for three meteorological towers on properties owned by Berwind Corp. The towers, two in Ogle Township and one in Shade Township, measure wind speed, direction and weather.
Laura Jackson, president of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, brought up many of her concerns during the township’s monthly meeting and suggested changes to the municipal ordinance concerning wind turbines.
“We’re at the very early stages of this project and Invenergy doesn’t know if they’re going to do the project. This would be an opportune time if you’re considering changing the ordinance,” she said at the meeting.
“We’re not here to keep this project from ever going in, we’re just here to protect the health and safety and welfare of the residents.”
Jackson’s concerns included the turbines’ impact on the environment, property values, residents’ health and wildlife.
“We’ve been concerned about turbines on Shaffer Mountain for many years,” she said. “Residents here are concerned about property devaluation. There have been studies done in the Midwest about what happens when a project like this goes in next to a property.
“Properties directly adjacent cannot sell their properties. Nobody wants to buy it. In a mile or two, properties lose 20 or 30 percent of their property value.”
She said another concern is the noise and reflection from the spinning blades.
“It’s not just the audible noise, but the low frequency noise given off from the blades,” Jackson said. “If you get carsick, that same feeling is how wind turbines affect some people. They can become nauseated, vomit and become ill.”
She added that the blades also reflect sunlight and cast shadows on homes, causing a flickering effect, which she said can cause people to become ill.
Supervisors Chairman John Topka replied that officials have heard about plans for wind turbines in the area, but they haven’t received any permits for them yet.
“We don’t know anything at this point,” he said. “We can surely review what you submitted to us and look at the request you’re making.”
Terry Dolan, president of the Folmont Property Owners Association, said he wants to strengthen Shade Township’s wind turbine ordinance so there won’t be more turbines close to property owners he represents.
“The reason people come here in the first place is to find peace and quiet and solitude on our mountain,” he said.
He added that there are 124 permanent properties in Folmont and some owners are unable to sell their homes because of adjacent wind turbines.
Invenergy and Berwind Corp. could not be reached for comment.
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