FELL TWP. – Brandy Collins can rest assured wind turbines won’t encroach on her property following a unanimous vote by township supervisors Monday night.
Supervisors voted to amend the township zoning ordinance by placing restrictions on wind and solar energy facilities in the town.
“We’re still happy to have them in Fell Twp., but at least I know they’ll be far enough off of our property that they won’t present a problem,” said Collins, who was one of about three dozen residents at the meeting.
The zoning amendment has been in the works since the summer, and the legislation comes after Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources discussed informal plans to construct a 24-turbine wind farm that would span several municipalities, including Fell Twp. One of the proposed turbines appeared to be about 500 feet from Collins’ property line, she said.
Collins said she’s happy for people who want the turbines on their property, but she wanted to protect her own.
In response to the proposed wind farm, concerned Upvalley residents formed the Waymart II Community last year – a grassroots group that called for stronger regulations on turbines. Carbondale Twp. passed similar legislation in 2019.
NextEra 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 purchased property and acquired easements in Archbald, Carbondale, Fell Twp. and Jefferson Twp over the past two years. Collins, a member of Waymart II Community, was concerned about noise, setback distances and ice being flung from the blades.
According to the zoning amendment, wind turbines cannot exceed between 45 and 55 decibels – depending on how the sound frequencies are measured – from the property line of the nearest nonparticipating property owner within a mile of a turbine. From 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., that number drops to between 42 and 52 decibels.
A refrigerator’s hum is about 40 decibels, and an air conditioner is 60, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The ordinance also requires turbines to be non-reflective, flat colors like white or gray, and it restricts them to 450 feet tall. Turbines must be set back from nonparticipating property owners’ buildings by either five times the turbine’s height or 1,500 feet, whichever is greater.
Township Supervisor Andy Gorel said he hasn’t heard anything recently from the company regarding its plans.
The zoning amendment is designed to be fair for any energy companies while protecting residents, he said.
“We’re not anti-growth here,” he said. “Clean energy is good energy.”
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