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Year in review: Wind turbine battle continues

A multiyear dispute over proposed wind turbines in Penn Forest Township continued in county and state courts in 2020.

County courts dealt two setbacks to the proposed turbines on property owned by the Bethlehem Authority. The company proposing the turbines appealed the decisions to a state appeals court.

In April, Judge Steven Serfass sided with two property owners who appealed the approval of Atlantic Wind’s first application for 37 turbines.

In May, Serfass again sided with property owners, upholding the zoning hearing board’s 2019 decision to reject Atlantic Wind’s second application for 28 turbines, which would be larger than the ones proposed originally.

In both cases, the court said that Atlantic Wind failed to meet two factors required to receive zoning approval.

The first requirement was that a piece of property can only have one principal use. Property owners Phillip C. Malitsch and Christopher Mangold argued that the property is already used for drinking water production and the wind turbines would be a second principal use.

The second requirement was proving that the wind turbines would not exceed a noise limit of 45 dBA.

Atlantic Wind’s appeal of the second application is still pending in Commonwealth Court. Their appeal of the first application has been discontinued.

A separate proposal for 21 wind turbines on the Broad Mountain in Packer Township is currently being heard before the Packer Township Zoning Hearing Board.