After hours of debate with residents, Ogle Township supervisors delayed a decision on the township’s windmill ordinance.
Chairman Harvey Weyandt Jr. said supervisors would be gathering more information on the subject following a special meeting Monday. More than 64 people, including residents of Ogle and Paint townships, listened to presentations about the pros and cons of adding a wind farm in the area.
Invenergy has been collecting data from three meteorological towers in Ogle and Shade townships. The data will be used to determine whether a wind farm is feasible on Shaffer Mountain.
Weyandt said residents have 20 days to bring evidence to the township offices, which the supervisors will be corroborating.
“If there’s scientific information, I want to see it,” he said.
Weyandt said a decision might not be reached until the township’s May meeting.
The current ordinance requires windmills to be placed at least 300 feet from the nearest property line and 500 feet from the nearest structure.
Joseph Cominsky, who owns 90 acres in Ogle Township and was present for the meeting, has asked the township to amend the ordinance to increase the setback distances for turbines to at least 2,000 feet from properties and houses.
Cominsky is opposed to any wind farm in the area because he believes property values will plummet if the turbines are built.
“A rogue property owner, that doesn’t live in this township but has some land, can ruin it for the rest of us,” Cominsky said. “Only 25 acres is all he needs to put a wind turbine in right now.”
Although Weyandt does not prefer wind farms on his own property, he stressed that increased setbacks could unfairly restrict smaller landowners who want to place turbines on their land.
“Is the setback reasonable or unreasonable?” he said. “That’s what we have to look at.”
Invenergy Business Development Vice President Michael Kaplan said the company is still in the early stages of determining whether a project is viable in the township. Kaplan told people at the meeting that the company would need at least 12 property owners for a successful project.
“The reality is we wouldn’t be here if the property owners didn’t want us here,” he said.
Kaplan added that any project would require the involvement of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Most of the people at the meeting stood up against any windmill project, with many expressing concerns about wildlife and property values.
Weyandt said supervisors need to look at the legality of the ordinance, and to do that supervisors need more information.
“I’m trying to keep an open mind and hear both sides of the story,” he said.
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