PENN FOREST TWP., Pa. – After months of public hearings on a special exception application for 28 wind turbines in Penn Forest Township, the township’s zoning hearing board voted to deny the application of Atlantic Wind LLC.
Residents of Penn Forest Township packed the municipal building to hear the long-awaited decision from the township zoning hearing board. The application was staunchly opposed by residents who believed the turbines would pose environmental and quality-of-life concerns. Residents helped fund a legal challenge to the application and also formed social media campaigns in opposition to the project.
If approved by the board, the application would have brought 28 wind turbines to the township on land owned by the Bethlehem Water Authority. The board voted unanimously to deny the application after taking an executive session to deliberate on a decision.
The decision was met with applause and cheers from township residents, whom religiously attended zoning hearings to make their opposition to the project clear. Among their primary concerns were water quality, noise and sight disturbances form the turbines, its close proximity to the proposed PennEast Pipeline and the potential harm the turbines could inflict on birds and bats.
Despite a favorable ruling for Penn Forest Township residents in attendance, the decision could still be appealed by Atlantic Wind. According to Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor Michael Greek, the township has 45 days to issue their findings of fact pertaining to the application, and once the board’s findings are issued, Atlantic Wind can appeal the decision to the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas.
Additionally, a previous application from Atlantic Wind for 37 wind turbines on Bethlehem Water Authority property was approved by the zoning hearing board, which is currently subject to ongoing litigation.
For the time being, township residents are satisfied knowing that the latest proposal for turbines in the township will not come to fruition.
“Thank you, board!” yelled one member of the crowd – a sentiment that was echoed by the many residents who cheered, clapped and breathed a collective sigh of relief following the zoning hearing board’s unanimous decision.
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