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Atlantic Wind hearings continue before the Penn Forest Township Zoning Hearing Board

The Penn Forest Zoning hearing board continued to hear from professional civil engineer Philip C. Malitsch on Monday night, only this time it was while Malitsch was being cross-examined by Atlantic Wind attorney Edward Greene.

Before the cross-examination began, the hearing board held a brief executive session to discuss a number of “housekeeping items.” One of those items was the request by Atlantic Wind to re-advertise and repost the application to amend it to include the tax parcel which had been omitted from the initial application.

The omission was pointed out by Malitsch during his direct testimony on July 23. A motion was made and approved for the parcel to be included and the application advertised again.

“We are going to go ahead and advertise,” said Michael Greek, hearing board solicitor. “We are not making any determination as to if this corrects the deficiency in the application.”

Greek left it to the parties to argue that point later.

Objectors’ attorney Bruce Anders made his objection to the advertisement on the record.

Malitsch resides within 2,700 feet of a proposed wind turbine. Malitsch is also a party to a suit pending before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas, asking that court to find the deemed approval of the first application to be void.

At the onset of the cross-examination of Malitsch, Greene asked if Malitsch had an opinion as to his potential personal financial gain or loss as a result of the approval of Atlantic Wind’s application.

Anders immediately objected since Malitsch had testified as an expert witness in civil engineering and that Malitsch had not testified regarding property valuation.

Greene argued that Malitsch is a biased witness because he has a financial interest in the outcome of the hearing.

Greek permitted Greene to ask Malitsch questions related to whether he was a party to the court case and also a letter Malitsch had written to the township regarding the first application. He also questioned him about a statement he had made before the township supervisors during a public workshop regarding a change in the ordinance.

Malitsch responded that while at times during the previous application process he had expressed his opinion as to the impact that the turbines would have on the surrounding community, as an expert witness and a professional engineer, he was now responding directly and specifically to where the application fails to meet the ordinance and why the board should not approve it.

Malitsch also defended statements he made during the public workshop by saying that while he expected it would not make some of those present happy, his comments on the revised ordinance were more in line with those made by Atlantic Wind attorney Debra Shulski at the same hearing.

Greene was only partially through his cross-examination when time ran out on Monday. The next hearing will be advertised for 6 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Penn Forest Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.