September 12, 2017

W. Penn looks at new windmill ordinance

By Terry Ahner | Times News | Monday, September 11, 2017 |

West Penn Township supervisors on Tuesday took action geared toward a new windmill ordinance.

On a 2-0 vote, supervisors agreed to have board solicitor Holly Heintzelman request the GIS information from the Audubon Society in the township’s name and use the township’s email address.

Board Chairman Jim Dean was absent.

After the meeting, Heintzelman said there’s a provision in the ordinance that says wind turbines shall be 1,000 feet below the Kittatinny Ridge.

“They can’t be located any closer than that,” Heintzelman said. “You have to have some GIS designation of exactly where the Kittatinny Ridge is.”

Because it involves zoning, the windmill ordinance had to be forwarded to the Schuylkill County Planning Commission for comment.

The information will be maintained on the township computer for the purposes of the wind turbine ordinance.

Heintzelman said the township currently has about three paragraphs in its zoning ordinance that relates to windmills.

She said one of the purposes of the new ordinance is to distinguish between the requirements for windmills that might be used for residential and/or agricultural uses, which they are calling accessory wind energy facilities, and commercial wind farms, which they are calling principal wind energy facilities.

Heintzelman said the power created by accessory wind energy facilities is used primarily by the resident of the property on which the accessory wind energy facilities are located, while the power created by principal wind energy facilities is generally sold to third parties for profit.

She drafted a completely new ordinance back in November.

The windmill ordinance is scheduled for review and possible adoption when the board meets at 9 a.m. Sept. 18.

Other action

Supervisors also:

• Agreed to hire Joseph Thomas as a seasonal road crew employee at the rate of $16.50 per hour, retroactive to Aug. 28, and bound by the union contract terms and conditions

• Agreed to have the township participate in mediation with the Department of Open Records, and to have Heintzelman and township secretary Patty Nothstein be the agency representatives for the purposes of mediation in this matter, with Heintzelman as the main contact.

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