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Packer hearing on turbines continues

Published May 02. 2019 12:35PM

The Packer Township Zoning Hearing Board is accepting letters from residents who feel they would be impacted by the proposed wind turbine project on Broad Mountain.

On Tuesday, the board held the second session in what is expected to be a lengthy hearing to consider whether Broad Mountain Power LLC should be granted a special exception from the township zoning ordinance to construct wind turbines in the township’s agricultural zone.

Broad Mountain Power LLC is a subsidiary of Algonquin Power, a multibillion-dollar Canadian company.

The turbines are proposed on land owned by Kovatch Enterprises and Hazleton Electric Inc.

Township residents who feel they would be impacted by the plan are welcome to send letters to the township care of the zoning hearing board, 2234 Hudson Drive, Weatherly, PA 18255.

So far, 194 residents have joined together to hire an attorney to represent them during the hearing.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Algonquin Power presented renderings of what the turbines would look like from different areas of the township. The renderings showed that the turbines will be visible from at least 3 miles away.

Bruce Anders, attorney for the residents objecting to the project, quoted a trade publication article saying that 16 of the 21 wind turbines proposed for Broad Mountain would be the tallest of any wind turbines in the U.S., with blades reaching 656 feet.

Broad Mountain is planning to call 10 experts in total to testify during the hearing. They only made it through one expert, a Geographic Information Systems specialist who made the renderings showing what the turbines would look like from the township, before Wednesday night’s session ended.

They plan to call additional experts to address the structure, placement, operations, visual analysis, communications, FAA requirements, acoustics, civil engineering, permitting and the property value impact of the project, according to attorney Brian Stahl.

The session started with Bruce Anders cross-examining project manager Robert Miller. Anders asked Miller if he was aware that James Dulcey, owner of Hazleton Electric, had been directly contacting Anders’ clients, urging them to drop their opposition to the project. Miller said he wasn’t aware.

Anders also brought up Broad Mountain’s Interconnection application, which states that the site will also include a 10 MW battery contained in a shipping container. He said that would constitute another use, which would need township approval.

Ryan Pohle of Shoener Environmental testified about renderings he created showing the wind turbines Photoshopped onto photos of the Broad Mountain. Irene Genther, a resident of Nesquehoning, questioned why there were no views of the turbines from the south.

George Asimos, another attorney for Broad Mountain, said the applicant only wanted to present images showing views from Packer Township.

Since the zoning hearing board has the power to request its own renderings from Broad Mountain, solicitor Greg Mousseau requested that they provide a view from the south.

The hearing concluded with Dennis Jimeno, an engineer with Comsearch, beginning to present reports about the towers’ effect on radio signals. His testimony will continue at a future hearing.

The hearing will continue at 6 p.m. on May 15 in the Weatherly Middle School cafeteria.

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