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Hegins Twp. zoning board denies wind variance  

Credit:  Vicki Terwilliger | Republican Herald | December 17, 2019 | www.republicanherald.com ~~

VALLEY VIEW – The Hegins Township Zoning Hearing Board on Monday unanimously denied the use variance for a Waverly energy developer wanting to erect wind turbines in the township.

Meanwhile, Clean Air Generation LLC is unsure if it will appeal the board’s decision, according to the firm’s attorney.

Board chairman, Larry Umholtz; member, Todd Bixler; and alternate member, Steve Klinger, voted to deny the use variance CAG had requested in a continuance from the board’s Nov. 21 public hearing.

The company has proposed building a wind energy farm, with a maximum of 75 to 80 wind turbines total; up to 40 possible in Hegins Township and the remaining in Porter, Tremont and Frailey townships.

Hegins Township has its own zoning hearing board, while Schuylkill County oversees the zoning for the other townships.

CAG wants to erect the proposed turbines on the ridge tops in the Bear Mountain area on approximately 12,672 acres that CAG acquired through a land lease and wind easement agreement with Rausch Creek Land LP, Valley View.

Nicholas Cohen, CAG principal, and the firm’s attorney, Charles B. Haws, of Reading, told the board they had nothing else to add, other than the memorandums already submitted.

Umholtz said the board considered the memos submitted by all of the attorneys in the case. That included solicitor Donald G. Karpowich, Drums, representing Hegins Township supervisors; Bruce Anders, of Wilkes-Barre, representing Kris Wetzel and Rocky Slope Inc., objectors with adjacent property; and attorney Martin J. Cerullo, of Pottsville, representing the Schuylkill County Airport Authority. Anders said CAG had not met its burden of proof and showed no hardship.

The board Monday also recognized an attorney representing the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

DMVA representatives commented Nov. 21 about the negative impact the proposed turbines could have on training. They are within the northern training area for Army aviators from all 50 states, who fly between Muir Airfield at Fort Indiantown Gap and Schuylkill County Joe Zerbey Airport, Mount Pleasant, according to the DMVA.

CAG was seeking “site-specific relief pursuant to the procedures in Section 803.2 of the Hegins Township Zoning Ordinance and Section 916(f) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.”

The company wants to develop the wind energy project on property that is also pursuant to the township’s wind energy safety ordinance. CAG’s variance is in regard to permitted uses in the S-3 Special Purpose Mining District, where it wants to build the wind energy project.

The zoning hearing board has 45 days to file its decision, and then CAG would have 30 days after that filing in which to appeal.

The three-man zoning hearing board Monday also denied CAG’s appeal of zoning officer Allan Swab’s decision. Swab had denied CAG’s permit application for the wind turbine project in a letter on Aug. 29.

In a third motion, the zoning hearing board Monday denied the applicant’s substantive challenge and the request for substantive relief. That decision was made on the basis that the zoning hearing board “has no authority or jurisdiction to hear or decide that matter,” the board’s attorney, Linus E. Fenicle, of Camp Hill, said.

The determination of the zoning hearing board’s authority was based on the prior application for a curative amendment with the township and the prior curative resolution that has been adopted by the board of supervisors.

According to CAG, the township’s existing zoning ordinance is exclusionary in that it does not designate any zone within the township as a permitted area for wind turbines. CAG offered a suggestion to the township on a curative amendment, however, the township passed a resolution and decided to come up with its own curative amendment. The township supervisors will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 on adopting its curative amendment.

Source:  Vicki Terwilliger | Republican Herald | December 17, 2019 | www.republicanherald.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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