Hegins Township will ring in the new year with two new supervisors and a vote on a curative amendment to the township’s zoning ordinance. The amended ordinance addresses wind energy use.
Gary Hornberger and William Wolfgang will be sworn in at 7 p.m. Jan. 6, during the reorganization meeting. They replace supervisors Gary Harner and Michael Begis, whose terms expire at the end of this year. Hornberger currently serves as township secretary/treasurer.
The board of supervisors, which will include Hornberger, Wolfgang and current members Brad Carl, Doug Lucas and Bruce Klouser, will hold a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 8, and then hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 23, to consider the curative amendment.
The purpose of the amended ordinance is “to permit the use of wind energy and to provide for the land planning, installation and construction of wind energy facilities in Hegins Township, subject to reasonable conditions that will protect the public health, safety and welfare,” the 33-page document states.
A copy of the proposed, amended ordinance is in the township office for public review. It lists, in part, definitions of wind energy terms and elements such as noise, height, setback distance, accessory buildings and structures, lighting, shadow flicker, ice throw, visual impact, safety and security, environmental impact and decommissioning.
In June, a wind energy developer, Clean Air Generation LLC, submitted a “substantive validity challenge” to the township asserting that the township’s current zoning ordinance was deficient because it did not address where wind energy development could occur. CAG, who has proposed a maximum of 75- to 80-wind turbines in Hegins and parts of Frailey, Porter and Tremont townships, had suggested permitting wind energy projects in Hegins’ S-3 special purpose mining zone. The Hegins Township supervisors agreed in August that CAG’s challenge had merit; however, the township came up with its own correction. They hired John R. Varaly, a Wilkes-Barre professional planning consultant, to draft the curative amendment.
Some of the major elements in the curative amendment are:
- A Principal Wind Energy Facility is defined as a “system of one or more wind turbines, which may include other accessory structures and buildings, appurtenant structures and facilities, designed as a principal use on a lot, wherein the power generated is used primarily for off-site consumption.”
- PWEF may be permitted as conditional use in any zoning district which bears an RE Renewable Energy Overlay District. The S-3 Special Purpose Mining District is hereby amended to include an RE overlay district upon the township zoning map.
- PWEF shall not be artificially lighted, except to the extent required by the Federal Aviation Administration, the state Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation or other applicable authority that regulates air safety.
- Wind turbines shall be separated from each other by a minimum distance of five times the diameter of the rotors.
- The maximum wind turbine height shall not exceed 400 feet and comply with all regulations imposed by the FAA.
- In order for a tract of land to be eligible for a PWEF, it shall have a minimum lot size derived as follows: 2 acres times the number of wind turbines plus 18 acres equals the minimum lot size.
- PWEF shall be painted a non-reflective, flat color such as white, off-grey or grey unless required to be colored differently by FAA or BOA regulations.
- Wind turbines shall be set back from the nearest occupied building or non-occupied building on the participating landowner’s property a distance not less than the setback requirements for the zoning district or two times the turbine height, whichever is greater.
- The applicant shall provide an analysis with a map of the shadow flicker impacts of the project upon any non-participating landowner’s property that will be impacted by this effect.
- On-site transmission and power lines between wind turbines shall be placed underground.
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