After a month’s break, the hearings about a proposed wind farm atop the Broad Mountain between Nesquehoning and Packer Township will resume on tonight before Packer Township’s Zoning Hearing Board.
Wednesday’s session begins at 6 p.m. at the Weatherly Area Middle School cafeteria, and is slated to feature expert Curt Westergard, who will testify about the balloon test/simulation analysis.
At the last hearing on Aug. 14, two experts spoke on Broad Mountain Power’s proposal to build a wind turbine farm, an engineer about updating the map of the site, and an expert on habitat and animals regarding animals on the site, Jason Tourscher of Shoener Environmental of Dickson City, who is a professional ecologist.
The map discussion included a tussle over the map including new items from the original.
Tourscher’s testimony included a finding of no critical habitat, but “some summer range rattlesnakes,” which will mean there will be a “snake monitor” during construction.
A study found some bats, including a rare eastern small-footed bat, a little brown bat, and a long-eared, out of 307 netted and counted. For bats, Broad Mountain Power will be doing bat conservation measures. The company “intends to comply with all regulations.” No rare birds were found.
Attorney Bruce Anders, representing over 200 opponents of the project, asked Tourscher about wildlife permits.
“It’s a long process” was the reply, but the project is still in the zoning stage. Two permits still open include fish and wildlife and fish and boat.
Questions moved to the project site, and the clearing of 250 acres of trees and brush and improving up to 10 miles of existing roads on the 5,000 acre site. Broad Mountain Power will be keeping a 656-foot buffer from the pads to the nearby game lands.
Anders tried to enter into the record that the Pennsylvania Game Commission will not allow wind turbine development on their lands as the development is seen as “incompatible to their mandate.” This was objected to by Broad Mountain Power’s attorneys, with the objection sustained by zoning board solicitor Greg Mousseau, chairing the meeting for the Packer Township zoning board.
Robert Yurchak, solicitor for Packer Township, asked for a definition of Tourscher’s job, which was explained to be pre-construction surveys, construction monitoring and post-construction surveys, including keeping watch on animal mortality and monitoring compliance with permits.
Audience member Susan Gallagher, chief naturalist of the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, was introduced to ask a question, but began with statements and was shut down by Mousseau, who explained she could qualify herself as an expert at a future time.
Attorneys from the power company, on redirect, asked if there was anything unique about this location.
“No” was the answer.
Mousseau asked how long the agency approval letters were good, with the answer being two years to obtain the permit, and once a permit is issued, five years.
Scheduled for the hearing on Sept. 24 is wind turbine expert Roark Lanning, and on Sept. 26, Robert Miller will testify about assorted issues raised at previous hearings regarding company policy and project status.
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