HUDSONDALE – Two of the three Packer Twp. supervisors – including the newest supervisor – have signed petitions against the proposal to put large windmills atop Broad Mountain.
Supervisors Terry Davis and Suzie Gerhard said they have signed petitions. Davis was sworn in Tuesday night to succeed Adam Nyer, who resigned last month.
Supervisor Cory Gerhard said he hasn’t signed a petition “because no one asked.”
Township residents filled the meeting room Tuesday evening and asked questions about the proposal to build 21 windmills – most of them 656 feet high – in the township and neighboring Nesquehoning.
“Are the supervisors aware of how opposed virtually all of the Packer Twp. residents are to the windmills?” Larry Stewart asked. “Have you seen the sheets and sheets of signatures of people who do not want this in this area?”
Supervisor Suzie Gerhard responded, “Yes, we are aware. My name is on that (petition). We have a letter drafted to the Carbon County commissioners asking for their assistance, if they can render any help in opposing the wind farm. It will go out in the (Wednesday) morning.”
The supervisors also are going to review their involvement with the Broad Mountain Power Cooperative they formed with Nesquehoning.
“We are bringing this back to the table,” Suzie Gerhard said. “We are going to review it. We will have something definite for next meeting if we are going to continue to be part of this co-op.”
Ken Sency asked if the 2008 ordinance the township has on the books can be strengthened. But Bob Yurchak, the township solicitor, said an ordinance cannot be changed in response to an application.
“Any change to an ordinance after a submission is made is not going to affect that submission,” Yurchak said. “That submission goes based on the ordinance as it stands when it is submitted.”
Yurchak urged township residents to attend the zoning hearing to get their questions answered. That hearing has not yet been scheduled, he said.
Algonquin Power has submitted its third application for the wind farm. Yurchak said it is still under review.
Martin Cichowic, the township zoning officer, said he has until Sunday to rule on the new application. Cichowic said he may ask for an extension because of the detail in this latest application.
The windmills could affect cable television, internet and firefighting communications, and an airport in the township, residents said.
Township resident Bob Jais, who has worked his entire career in the cable television industry, said wind turbines can affect television and radio transmission – not only over-the-air television, but cable TV as well.
“When turbines went online near Tunkhannock, all the residents lost their television reception for WNEP due to the electromagnetic interference coming off the turbines,” Jais said. “With any loose connection in somebody’s house, it will get into the cable system, affect everybody’s internet, television reception and telephone service they need to use for 9-1-1”
Another resident questioned what would happen if fire communications were affected, and how firefighting itself would be affected if the turbines caught fire.
“If they (turbines) hurt our fire frequency, are we going to have to relocate towers?” he asked. “Is 9-1-1 going to be able to send our signals out so we have dispatch? Are we going to talk with our portables in Packer Twp.? If they go through, what are they going to do for the fire department to resolve the problem?”
The resident also pointed out local fire companies do not have equipment that can reach 650 feet, so any turbine would have to be allowed to burn and fall onto wooded areas.
Jais said electromagnetic interference, also known as radio frequency interference, could affect navigation in airplanes.
Jan Grover said he has an airport at the base of Broad Mountain and that the towers would be only 5,800 feet away. He fears problems with wind patterns, plane landing patterns and turbulence.
“They could be deadly,” Grover said of the turbines. “It’s not just the physical structures, it’s the invisible stuff that is dangerous.”
Like radio transmission towers, the turbines – because of their height – require a red light atop each tower so airplanes can see and avoid them.
Jais said the red lights will cause light pollution.
“These towers will be blinking,” Jais said, “It will require two strokes (blinks) on each side of the turbine, They have to blink within one-20th of a second. There will be 21 turbines. That’s 42 strokes blinking in our valley in high-intensity red light. That’s light pollution.”
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