WEATHERLY – The developer proposing to build approximately two dozen large windmills atop Broad Mountain was to present 10 expert witnesses during the zoning hearing into the request, one of their attorneys said Tuesday.
But at Wednesday night’s Weatherly Area School Board work session, Peter Bard, the district’s secretary and business manager, said the May meetings were canceled.
“They (Packer Twp.) called today and canceled the May dates,” Bard said. “They didn’t give a reason. They said they would get back to us with dates in June and July.”
However, a miscommunication between the school district and Packer Twp. officials supplied incorrect information. The hearings will happen as scheduled.
Attorney Brian P. Stahl said at the second evening of the hearing Tuesday in the Weatherly Middle School cafeteria that Algonquin/Liberty Power, doing business as Broad Mountain Power, would present the following expert witnesses during the zoning hearing:
An expert to discuss the placement of wind turbines within a wind farm; a manager from the company to explain wind farm operations; an expert to explain the preparation of the required visual analysis; a communication expert to explain the lack of communications interference; an expert on FAA and PA Bureau of Aviation requirements; an acoustics expert; a civil engineer; an expert environmental permitting, and an expert on property value impacts.
“It is expected to get through all of those witnesses it will require a number of evenings, correct?” asked attorney Greg Mousseau, solicitor for the Packer Twp. Zoning Hearing Board.
“We don’t expect to get through all of those witnesses in one evening,” Stahl replied.
Board members Anthony Caso, chairman; Barbara Genetti, vice chairwoman; Myron Tarapchak, member; and Neil Craig, the alternate, were asked if any of 194 names on a list of opponents of the project would prevent them from being unbiased. They all looked at the list, and said none of the names on it would pose a problem.
Mousseau said the next two evenings for the hearing will be held two Wednesdays, May 15 and May 29, at 6 p.m. also in the Weatherly Middle School cafeteria.
Testimony in the hearing picked up where it was left off at the previous hearing April 16 – with attorney Bruce K. Anders of Plains Twp., representing 194 opponents to the proposal, cross-examining project manager Rob Miller.
Miller said Liberty/Algonquin Power purchased a previous project in June 2018.
The turbines would produce 80 megawatts of power that would be connected to the PJM, or Pennsylania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection.
There is also a 10-megawatt battery storage facility in the plans, but it “is not being considered at this time,” Miller said.
Then Ryan Pohle of Shoner Environmental, the company’s GIS manager and environmental scientist, testified about where the windmills would be placed. He used GPS, or Global Positioning System, technology to theoretically place where the windmills would be built.
“We set the model where it is located in the real world,” Pohle said. “Once the model is set, we then download and bring in topographic elevation data in a digital elevation model format from the United States Geological Survey. From that, we then place the proposed turbine locations After that, we take photos from various points of interest. Then the photos are downloaded into the software and information is extracted from the photo. We then choose control points – real locations – in the geographic environment. A control point would be a known house, a known silo, a stand-alone tree in a field – identifiable objects. Those control points are referenced to the same control points on the photo.”
The viewpoints were chosen at key points, Pohle said – Quakake Road, which bisects Packer Twp. in an east-west fashion; St. Matthew’s Church, as a place of congregation; the Joe Andreuzzi Community Park, as a recreational area, and residences along Wallace Way as a group of residential clusters. He placed windmills in pictures he generated.
“If you can visualize a silo in the photo – and you know where that silo is in the real world – you can calibrate that photo accurately,” Pohle said. The software then simulates the exact placement of the wind turbines, Pohle said.
The turbines would be located across the mountain ridge. Pohle said 21 turbines will be constructed, while five smaller ones may be constructed.
Pohle also used the software to simulate how the turbines would look from a distance. He said they could be seen from 15,000 feet away, or about three miles.
Dennis Jimenal, a telecommunications engineer for Comsearch, Ashburn, Virginia, testified about the windmill’s potential effect on various forms of communications.
Jimenal said the proposed windmills will not interfere with microwave or emergency radio communications. He didn’t conclude his testimony, as other communications systems were not covered. So Jimenal’s testimony will be picked up at another hearing.
Mousseau said witnesses will be taken out of turn due to availability, so Jimenal may not be at the next hearing.
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