Attorneys in Penn Forest Township peppered Atlantic Wind representatives with questions Wednesday night as the township zoning hearing board continued testimony on the pending application to build a string of turbines in the township.
The proposal is to build 28 turbines that are 592 feet high on property owned by Bethlehem Water Authority.
Township solicitor Thomas J. Nanovic Jr. entered his appearance on the part of the township. The newly appointed township engineer, Richard Kresge, was also present.
Kresge was hired at Monday night’s supervisors meeting to advise the township on matters related to wind turbines.
At the beginning of the hearing, Craig Poff, director of project development for Avangrid Renewables was subject to cross-examination.
Nanovic asked Poff about the use of the Vestas turbines as a standard.
“You said that you based your testimony on the Vestas,” Nanovic said. “But you also said that that is not necessarily the model that will be used. How is the township going to know that the model you choose is not going to be, say, noisier?”
Poff said that since they will be purchasing on the open market in two to three years, they would have no idea what will be available. He added that whatever would be chosen would either meet or exceed the Vestas unit that is being used in the application.
Nanovic questioned how the township could be assured of that.
Michael Kissinger of Pennoni Associates, the professional engineer who drafted the plans, gave the main testimony.
As part of this project, the owner of the property, The Bethlehem Water Authority, will be subdividing and consolidating lots within the authority’s property. There were no planned lot divisions proposed in the first application.
“I believe that they have realized that their initial plan was flawed,” said attorney Bruce Anders. “They are creating this subdivision/consolidation to somehow mask the flaw in their plan and that was clearly unmasked today.”
Anders originally represented one objector, A. Christopher Mangold.
The second application eliminated a string of turbines closest to Mangold’s property which would possibly remove Mangold from having the proper status to continue as an objector to the second application.
At the first hearing on the application held last month, Anders had added a second client.
At the onset of Wednesday’s meeting Anders announced that his list of clients had grown to 47.
Mangold is still an objector to the first permit application submitted by Atlantic Wind. The original project, to build 37 turbines, was deemed approved and is currently being appealed before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas.
Central to Anders’ line of questions on Wednesday night for Kissinger was that the lot consolidation, the removal of an operations and safety building and the moving of a substation to an R2 zone, rather than the R1 zone that will contain the wind turbines, was all in an effort to eliminate what he believes is a fatal flaw in the original application.
Anders contends that the principal use of all of the property owned by the water authority is the production of potable water.
The areas which are designated for the wind turbines and the accessory structures are within residential zones. Residential zones are permitted only one principal use.
Atlantic Wind’s witnesses are testifying that the lots that will be within the consolidation are “vacant lots” with no current principal use.
Anders referred to a number of documents, a conservation easement and a letter from the water authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding the PennEast pipeline in particular that refer to the entirety of the property as being used for the production of potable water.
Anders argued that while Atlantic Wind continues to insist that the two applications are separate applications for the same project, he believes that the second application is merely an amendment of the first application and an attempt to correct the flaws that were pointed out during the initial hearings before the zoning hearing board.
A third hearing has been scheduled for 6 p.m. April 24 at the Penn Forest Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.
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