The company trying to build almost two dozen windmills atop Broad Mountain in Packer Twp. says amendments to the township’s zoning law would effectively block the development of future wind projects within the municipality.
On Thursday, Broad Mountain Power LLC filed a formal appeal with the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas challenging recent zoning ordinance amendments made by the township.
The challenge seeks to invalidate what the company says are “procedurally flawed” ordinance amendments because the township did not follow strict statutory requirements as set forth in the state’s Municipalities Planning Code for public notice, public hearings and public comment on the proposed amendments, the company said.
“The amendments represent substantial changes to the previously existing ordinance that allowed turbines, while at the same time minimizing or mitigating impacts,” the company said in a news release. “The amended ordinance essentially makes it impossible to construct or operate a modern wind farm within Packer Twp.”
“At Broad Mountain Power, we have operated in an open and transparent manner since Day 1, making sure local elected officials and residents have all the information they need about our proposed project,” said Rob Miller, Broad Mountain Power’s project manager.
“We regret that it has come to this and that we have to take this action,” Miller continued. “But this appeal is necessary to protect and promote landowner rights, and to allow for the construction and operation of environmentally beneficial, clean wind energy projects in Packer Twp. and across the nation.”
According to the appeal, some of the defects with the amended zoning ordinance, based on provisions of the Municipalities Planning Code, include:
■ The township failed to include a statement that copies of the proposed ordinance may be examined without charge or obtained for a charge not greater than the cost thereof in the Notice of Special Meeting.
■ The township failed to make complete copies of the proposed ordinance amendments available for inspection at the county law library and the Standard-Speaker, where notice about the special meeting was advertised.
■ At least 10 days prior to enactment, the township failed to re-advertise in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipality, a brief summary setting forth all the amendment provisions in reasonable detail, together with a summary of the amendments.
■ The township failed to provide notice of another public hearing.
■ The township failed to hold a public hearing before proceeding to vote on and enact the proposed amendments.
Broad Mountain Power said projects like the local one and other wind farm developments are crucial to providing clean energy that helps to power economies while still addressing the harmful effects of climate change. The project is even more crucial for Pennsylvania, which recently set a statewide goal to promote clean energy projects to save taxpayer money and create jobs, the company said.
In January, the state put forth a new executive order establishing the first statewide goal to reduce carbon pollution in Pennsylvania, which is contributing to climate change. The state will work to achieve a 26% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and an 80% reduction by 2050, from 2005 levels. That includes the state itself procuring renewable energy to offset at least 40 percent of the commonwealth’s annual electricity use.
These goals simply cannot be met without projects like Broad Mountain, the company said.
Phone calls to Robert Yurchak, Packer Twp. solicitor, and a text to Supervisor Suzie Gerhard seeking comment were not returned.
Broad Mountain Power plans to construct and operate an 80-megawatt, 21-turbine project in Packer Twp. Upon completion, the project will produce enough clean electricity to power about 25,000 homes a year.
The project currently is under review by Packer Twp.’s zoning hearing board. The hearing has lasted about a dozen evenings. The next is scheduled for Sept. 18.
Broad Mountain Power has a field office at 202 Carbon St. in Weatherly. More information is available toll-free at 866-591-5005 or online at www.broadmountainwindproject.com.
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