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Wind farm company says project is approved

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PENN FOREST TOWNSHIP, CARBON COUNTY (WOLF) -- After a year of controversy, a wind energy company is declaring its project has been approved.

The company is saying that since a zoning board hasn't met for a while, the wind farm is automatically approved. We have reaction from neighbors.

People on Hatchery Road and nearby areas attended several zoning meetings last year, until Atlantic Wind protested about the security of those meetings, sending the issue to court.

So far, no more meetings have been held yet this year.

They are a common sight in the casino area of Plains Township: wind turbines up on the hill in Bear Creek Township.

But in Carbon County, residents aren't excited about the idea of seeing them outside their windows.

"All I can tell you is what I've been told: it's not really good for the environment around us, for the properties near them," says neighbor Frank Passalacqua.

"If they're in your backyard, I wouldn't want them because then we could see them," says neighbor Jeanne Klotz.

Atlantic Wind LLC says in a legal notice published Friday that it believes the project is now approved by default, since the zoning board hasn't met in 45 days.

In explaining why, the company cites the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.

"That I don't approve of. Penn Forest should have been on that," says Klotz.

"I'm betting that it's not true," says neighbor Cindy Daley.

In fact, the zoning board has not met for eight months.

After five hearings last summer at the Penn Forest Township fire hall, Atlantic Wind complained it was an unsafe setting, according to court documents.

The company asked to move hearings to the courthouse in Jim Thorpe with security and metal detectors, saying the zoning board can't render a fair decision in the face of threats.

However, a judge ruled that the company didn't raise these concerns with the zoning board, and was trying to circumvent the review process. He threw out the complaint in February.

"We're waiting to go to the meeting to find out what's happening because we haven't really met for a very long time," says Daley.

"We got some mail about it, but I didn't think it was gonna be this close yet," says Passalacqua.

Daley says she believes federal subsidies are wasted on these types of projects.

"Our house will be getting it from the front and from the back, and we're told that they're noisy," says Daley. "I don't think they're good for the environment and I think that they cost way too much out of the taxpayers' money to produce very little electricity."

The turbines would go on land owned by the Bethlehem Water Authority, which provides water to the city of Bethlehem in the Lehigh Valley.

Klotz says the Palmerton Fishing And Hunting Association, which she belongs to, rejected an offer to put turbines on their land.

"We don't benefit from the wind turbines, other people do. It's not even for our community," says Klotz.

Zoning board chairwoman Audrey Wargo says their meeting on Wednesday, May 17, at 6 p.m. at the fire hall is a go.

It was advertised last Wednesday, before the company's notice on Friday.

Supervisor chairman Warren Reiner says he's heard about the company's notice, but he's not sure whether it will stand up. Residents are waiting to see what happens.

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