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Bethlehem Authority director will testify in turbine hearing

Stephen Repasch, executive director of the Bethlehem Authority, is being called to testify at the next Penn Forest Township hearing about the Atlantic Wind case.

On Tuesday night, the board heard both sides. Bruce Anders, attorney for the objectors to the 28 proposed turbines on authority land, issued a subpoena to compel Repasch to testify.

James Preston, attorney for the authority, filed a motion to quash the subpoena.

Michael Greek, hearing board solicitor, overruled the motion to quash and ordered Repasch to testify at the Oct. 9 hearing. Anders agreed to keep his questions to matters of fact.

A surprise witness

Just before the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing board allowed Keith Steigerwalt, executive director of the Palmerton Hunting and Fishing Club, to testify.

The association owns 1,233 acres of land that sits directly within the center of the Bethlehem Water Authority land.

Debra Shulski, attorney for Atlantic Wind, objected to Steigerwalt, saying she believed he would testify to a boundary dispute and that the zoning hearing board had no authority to decide such a dispute.

Greek overruled Shulski, saying the association had standing in the case and could address the board.

Steigerwalt said that the property borders the authority and Weiser State Forest.

“We had the property surveyed last year and had it recorded with the county on April 5 of last year,” Steigerwalt said. “It is the exact same footprint as we had in 1927.

“But Atlantic Wind’s map shows several windmills on our property.”

Steigerwalt said that Atlantic Wind has been accessing the authority along what it had referred to as “unimproved roads.”

“That’s just not so,” he said. “Those are fire lanes, for use only in the case of a fire, and we have deeds to that effect.”

Steigerwalt said the association has notified the township supervisors, Atlantic Wind and the Bethlehem Authority and that a “cease and desist” letter has been sent as well.

Steigerwalt concluded by saying he just wanted to make sure that the hearing board knew about the issue of the maps being used by Atlantic Wind in its application.


The hearing board also heard from several of the objectors. Anders chose four of 51 objectors to testify.

Testimony was taken from Marcus Laurence, Dr. Eileen DiGregorio, Francis Gola and John Cihiy, residents who live in close proximity to the proposed project.

Anders questioned each as to their concerns with sound and noise issues, vibrations, well water, health risks, property values and fire. The objectors also expressed concerns about the PennEast pipeline project being near the wind project.

DiGregorio was particularly concerned with the possible effects on sleep and sleep deprivation. She also expressed concerns regarding flicker, noise and vibration due to her suffering from migraine headaches.

Cihiy had a significant concern about fire.

“Everyone knows that turbines catch on fire,” Cihiy said. “We have seen in California what a fire can do. Of course I am concerned.”

Marcus Laurence lives in a home that faces the authority and has large glass windows at the front of the house.

“If there is flicker, there will be no way of blocking it out. That would make my home 90 percent unusable,” Laurence said.

Laurence had said he conducted research into the health effects of wind turbines.

“My fear is of the unknown,” he added.

The next hearing has been set at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Penn Forest No. 1 fire hall.