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Packer Twp. zoners deny wind farm

Zoning to allow a large windmill farm atop the Broad Mountain in Packer Twp. was denied Tuesday afternoon by the township zoning board.

The board voted 3-0 to deny a special exception to the township zoning ordinance to operate the wind farm, and to deny three zoning variances associated with such an operation.

Barbara Genetti, board vice chairwoman, said the denial centered around questions about the effects of sound from the wind turbines and their effect on property values.

“Based on what they (the applicants) were saying, and based on what the opposition was saying, we couldn’t decide who was giving us the accurate information,” Genetti said. “I do not find the applicant’s witnesses testimony credible, especially concerning sound.”

The denial will be spelled out in a written decision that will be issued within 30 days, Genetti said.

The decision ends an 17-month process that consisted of a zoning hearing that lasted 23 evenings from April 2019 to September 2020 at two to three hours each evening.

It may be two and a half months before it is known whether Broad Mountain Power will appeal its denial.

Attorney Brian Stahl, one of the attorneys representing Broad Mountain Power said Wednesday the firm has 45 days after a written decision is issued to make an appeal.

The special exception was for a wind farm to be constructed and operated on properties located generally north and west of Dennison

Road in the southwest portion of Packer Twp. in an A-l agricultural zoning district.

The proposed farm would consist of 26 wind turbines and associated infrastructure including access roads, electrical collector and transmission lines and up to four meteorological towers. The turbines would be of two different models – one approximately 452 feet in height and the other approximately 656 feet in height, along with meteorological towers proposed to be approximately 418.5 feet high.

The variances were to be for the portion of the zoning ordinance that requires that all access easements be improved with “a durable, dust-free, all weather surface” and the applicant instead proposed a gravel surface plus dust control measures during construction; from those portions of the zoning ordinance for relief from certain site plan content requirements such as the scale of drawings and the extent and detail of topographic information; and from those portions of the ordinance that require or depend on compliance upon the delivery of permits or approvals that must be issued by federal, state or township bodies or agencies other than the zoning hearing board.