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Judge dismisses attempt to overturn county zoning change

POTTSVILLE – A judge has dismissed a challenge by a Lackawanna County business to a change to an ordinance that will limit the height of new wind turbines in much of Schuylkill County.

In a one-sentence order, Schuylkill County Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin dismissed the challenge raised by Clean Air Generation LLC, North Abington Township, to the county planning commission’s refusal to consider its plan for new wind turbines in Frailey, Porter and Tremont townships.

The effect is to uphold the commissioners’ change to the zoning ordinance that restricts the height of such turbines, which have multiplied in the county and elsewhere to try to harvest wind power as a source of energy that does not use fossil fuels.

Dolbin’s order does not contain the reasoning behind his ruling.

Clean Air Generation has sought to build dozens of wind turbines on land it controls in western Schuylkill County.

The company had submitted a plan to the county Planning Commission to build approximately 70 such turbines. The commission marked the plan as “unfiled” because it had been submitted during the time when the commissioners were considering the amendment, which they passed on Feb. 19, 2020.

Clean Air Generation had filed the original lawsuit on Oct. 16, 2019, asking Dolbin to force the commission to consider its application. It filed a subsequent lawsuit after the commissioners adopted the new ordinance.

Dolbin denied the requests to force the commission to consider the plan and to overturn the curative amendment to the ordinance.

The plan had included requests for wind turbines in Frailey, Hegins, Porter and Tremont townships. The commission has jurisdiction over Frailey, Porter and Tremont; Hegins has its own ordinance governing such issues.

The new county ordinance restricts the height and placement of such turbines but does not ban them.

It also has no effect on turbines that already are operating.

The amendment also had implemented new rules for medical marijuana and natural gas compressors. Clean Air Generation specified that it was not challenging those measures in either of its lawsuits.