Wind turbines are on Virginia Morton’s radar.
Since learning of a potential project which would sprawl mountains from Hegins to Porter townships, Morton has been doing all she can to educate herself, as well as county officials. To that end, she has met with Susan Smith with county zoning, and during the commissioners’ meeting Wednesday, she spoke during public comment.
The county’s zoning ordinance was last revised in 2010.
“Thinking has changed a lot since 2010; back then when people talked about wind turbines, everybody thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread,” Morton said. “But the people who are living near them now didn’t anticipate the impact they would have on their lives.”
Morton said a company called Clean Air Generation has leased 12,672 acres owned by Rausch Creek LLC. After talking with Smith, Morton learned that the county’s current ordinance does not include restrictions on height or density, and does not address the visual, environmental and economic impact such projects have on communities.
“In projects of such great dimension, there is a need for oversight,” Morton said. “There would be significant visual impact.”
Morton requested that the commissioners develop a “curative amendment” to the county ordinance to address deficiencies in the current ordinance. After the meeting, County Administrator Gary Bender said that the county previously did such an amendment, which was related to a natural gas project.
Bender said that to date, Clean Air Generation has not submitted plans to the county, or to Hegins Township. Hegins Township governs under its own zoning ordinance; Porter Township falls under the county zoning ordinance. Under the current county zoning ordinance, wind turbines are permitted uses in certain zones, such as agricultural, he said.
The Schuylkill County Commissioners did not comment on Morton’s request, preferring to take the issue under advisement and conduct further research.
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