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Penn Forest officials seeking to research proposed wind farm plan

Published May 03. 2011 05:00PM

Penn Forest Chairman Paul Montemuro said that no one approached the Board of Supervisors about installing wind turbines or a Wind Farm in the township and the township isn't saying much else until next month's meeting, he said.

Penn Forest Supervisors went into an executive session and returned deferring discussion on the zoning issue of what has been reported as the "Call Mountain Wind Project" stated on the agenda and reported as 27 wind turbines to be placed on Call Mountain, Pohopoco Mountain and Stoney Ridge in the Township Boundaries which surrounds Bethlehem Water Authority.

Montemuro stated that the proposed wind turbines by the Bethlehem City Council would not profit the citizens of Penn Forest. He said that his concerns are for the welfare of the residents of Penn Forest.

The profits from a venture such as this are exclusive to paying down the debt of the Bethlehem Water Authority which includes a $65 million loan the authority borrowed to replace the Penn Forest Dam, it was reported in the agenda. The Supervisors are trying to determine what if any ramifications this project will have on the residents of Penn Forest. Supervisors said they need to research the issue.

Township Solicitor, Thomas S. Nanovic said that the Supervisors need additional information and will discuss it Monday June 2, at 7pm at the regular meeting of the Supervisors.

During public forum, William Miller of the Fairview Development in Penn Forest asked the supervisors for a confirmation of an ordinance to prevent Hydraulic Fracturing in the Township. The Solicitor explained that there wasn't one but that he was willing to work with the Supervisors to prepare something.

Miller asked, "Can we make this a frack free zone?"

Montemuro said that he was in favor of having something in place to prevent Gas companies from fracturing. There was discussion about local areas as close as 15 miles away where problems have occurred from drilling into the Marcellus Shale from the process known as Hydraulic Fracturing.

Miller said, "I will sleep better at night. We will all sleep better at night. Come on, let's get the ball rolling."

Penn Township is valued as a watershed with an abundance of wetlands and wildlife habitats. Residents in attendance and Township Supervisors appeared to agree in unison with Miller. Nanovic said that he will research ordinances on Hydraulic Fracturing to present to the Supervisors for review.

A National event may come to Penn Forest and the zoning office wants to be assured that it can handle it. The Iron Man Event is an event that has courses and a series of challenges, Montemuro said.

"It's exciting to be here in our township. But it's the zoning board who has to give the go ahead because of the routes and safety issues and precautions necessary."

A Zoning Hearing on this issue will be held May 10th at 7pm. While the Supervisors have no say in this matter, Montemuro said he still will attend the zoning meeting because of his interest in this large event and to learn more about it.

A motion was approved to hire URDC/ Charles Schmehl to provide to the Township Emergency Operations Planning at a cost of $6,400.

Proprietors of the Sportsman's Deli, Betty and Bill McLaughlin have been providing Notary Services to the township free of charge. The Township Supervisors formally thanked them on behalf of all the residents.

Darlene DeCurtis' hours in the zoning office areTuesday to Friday 8-4 p.m. while Zoning Officer Joe Steber is in the hospital getting both knees replaced.

A motion passed to terminate Supervisor Judy Knappenberger as personnel manager and appoint Supervisor Alan Katz as personnel manager for township employees.

A motion was approved to install heat tape as required by the insurance company for prevention of future ice dams by L&M Construction. The winter's ice caused extensive damage to the roof and leaking inside the township building. The heat tape is a preventative measure, the cost to L& M is $3800.

There was discussion over truck purchases. Someone from the public said, "How do you justify buying two more trucks?"

Supervisor Alan Katz, who was teleconferencing, said by phone, "We almost throw a truck away every year."

Montemuro said, "It's in the budget." The discussion fizzled.

Supervisor Katz repeatedly was asked to refrain from discussion while on the phone but at times, sometimes incoherently he rambled causing Chairman Montemuro to raise the gavel. He stopped momentarily only to pick back up with incessant chatter. Members of the public were voicing their concern and anger while he seemed oblivious or unaware of the public's reaction. Some members of the public appeared to be stunned others appeared to be frustrated. The solicitor was discreetly trying to coax the Chairman to control the dialogue. Others were verbally asking the chairman to hang up the phone.

At times it was difficult to hear Supervisor Katz reports and a woman in the back asked him to speak up on the phone.

Supervisors are determining whether to take advantage of the Carbon County Workforce Training Summer Youth Employment Program, Supervisors will discuss this next month.

Solicitor Nanovic is completing a rough draft of a policy to Assist in Emergency Management Situations in Private Developments according to a report submitted by Supervisor Katz by phone.

There were about 40 people at the meeting.

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