Hegins Township supervisors will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, to consider revisions to the township’s curative zoning amendment.
Many of those changes suggested by the supervisors are less restrictive than those proposed in the first draft, and fall more in line with what a wind energy developer had suggested as a fix.
A copy of the 19-page, updated version of the amendment is available in the municipal office at 421 Gap St., Valley View, for the public to review.
The need for a curative amendment was brought to light last June when Clean Air Generation LLC, of Waverly, 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 had suggested a curative amendment to the ordinance would be to permit wind energy projects in the township’s S-3 special purpose mining zone.
The township decided to come up with its own correction of that zoning ordinance defect, while recognizing that CAG’s challenge had merit.
CAG has proposed up to 83 wind turbines total in the county of 499 feet in height or less. Forty turbines are possible in Hegins Township, with the remaining proposed turbines in Frailey, Porter and Tremont townships.
The purpose of the amended ordinance is to permit the use of wind energy projects in the township and provide for their planning, installation and construction, while protecting the public’s health and safety.
Supervisors had initially scheduled a public meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, but that meeting has been cancelled.
John “Jack” R. Varaly, a Wilkes-Barre professional planning consultant hired by the township, prepared the preliminary draft and updated the document with the recommended revisions suggested.
Among the updated changes, in part, are:
• Principal wind energy facilities may be permitted as a conditional use in the S-3 special purpose mining district. The first draft included that those wind facilities would only be permitted as a conditional use in any zone which bears a “Renewable Energy Overlay District.” The overlay district is removed in the revision. An overlay zone could have established additional, or stricter, standards and criteria.
• Setback distances were also revised. “Wind turbines shall be set back from the nearest occupied building or non-occupied building located on a non-participating landowner’s property a distance of not less than the setback requirements for the zoning district, or three times the turbine height, whichever is greater and measured horizontally from the center of the wind turbine base to the nearest point on the foundation of the occupied, or non-occupied building,” the curative amendment states. That is less restrictive than the first draft, which stated not less than five times the turbine height.
Meanwhile, the nearest property line setback distance was increased slightly in the new version to two times the turbine height or the setback requirement for the zoning district, whichever is greater; instead of 1.5 times the turbine height suggested in the first draft.
• The maximum wind turbine height shall not exceed 500 feet and should comply with all regulations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The first draft had a height not to exceed 400 feet.
The township’s planning commission had already reviewed the first draft of the amendment, but offered no comment on it.
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