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Fell Twp. supervisors continue work on wind turbine ordinance

FELL TWP. – The clock is ticking for the township to enact legislation that places restrictions on wind turbines, but supervisors are confident they’ll get it done on time.

“We know what (we’ve) got to do, and we’ll get it done,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Joseph Trichilo.

About 30 residents piled into the township building Tuesday night for updates on both the upcoming wind turbine ordinance and a future zoning hearing for Pioneer Aggregates’ Simpson Stone Quarry on Route 171. Last month, the township zoning hearing board voted to continue a hearing regarding the quarry’s use of construction and demolition waste for mine reclamation.

Supervisor Andy Gorel said Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources reached out to the township at least a year ago with plans to construct wind turbines in Fell Twp. Next-Era constructed the 43-turbine Waymart Wind Energy Center in 2003, which is visible throughout northern Lackawanna County and Wayne County.

Doing business as Waymart Wind II LLC, NextEra presented informal plans in Carbondale Twp. for a 24-turbine wind farm that would span several municipalities. In the past year and a half, Waymart Wind II LLC purchased property and acquired easements in Archbald, Carbondale, Fell Twp. and Jefferson Twp.

According to its easements, NextEra “intends to develop the Waymart II Wind Farm project, a wind farm in Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties.”

In the spring, Carbondale Twp. supervisors passed an ordinance that established restrictions, including setback requirements and decibel limits for wind turbines. Now, Fell Twp. is looking to do the same.

When the township began plans to create the ordinance in July, it set a 180-day window – now about 120 days – to pass the legislation, and NextEra would be held to whatever restrictions the township puts forward, said planning consultant John Varaly.

Varaly recommended the township put together a preliminary draft by October for the public to review.

Before the township can adopt a zoning ordinance, it needs to hold a public hearing, and the township and the county planning commissions need to review the ordinance – all time-sensitive steps, he said.

Township officials met with Varaly prior to the meeting and are considering retaining his services to help them create the ordinance.

However, Gorel is against hiring the planner because he recently testified against the township in an August zoning hearing as an expert witness for Pioneer Aggregates and its quarry.

After the meeting, Trichilo said a NextEra representative was supposed to attend the meeting, but he didn’t show up.

The next supervisors meeting will be Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., and the zoning hearing board will meet to make a ruling on the quarry Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. Both meetings will be at the Fell Twp. Municipal Building, 1 Veterans Road.