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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Potter County Wind Ordinance Passed By 2-1 Vote

An ordinance regulating industrial wind turbine location in Potter County was passed Thursday by a 2-1 vote of the Board of Commissioners. Chairman Doug Morley and Paul Heimel voted in favor of the regulations, to be incorporated in the Potter County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance. Commissioner Susan Kefover cast a dissenting vote.

The commissioners made significant revisions to the amendment that was proposed earlier this year by the Potter County Planning Commission. Much of the discussion over the past several months has focused on how far wind turbines should be set back from neighboring residences, and the amount of noise generated by the turbines that should be permissible beyond the participating landowner’s borders.

Townships of Ulysses, Hebron, Homer, Sweden and Eulalia have passed, or are considering, industrial wind energy ordinances which are less restrictive than the countywide standard. The township ordinances, if properly adopted and implemented, would supersede the county’s regulations. Potter County Today

Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel released this statement:


"No issue that has come before this board has generated such a degree of discussion and controversy as industrial wind turbines. I feel comfortable that every major issue has been identified in the drafting of this ordinance, and that it represents a reasonable balance between protecting the neighbors from the potential risk to their health, safety and welfare, and respecting the rights of private property owners who desire to do what they want with their own land."

"Over the past two years, I’ve read countless pages of scientific studies; anecdotal accounts of the impact wind turbines have had on neighbors in other parts of the country; local and model ordinances from Pennsylvania and other states; media accounts and other research. I’ve visited wind facilities and talked with people in those towns."

"The difficulty of this issue is that there are no absolutes. Inevitably, once the entire body of work is digested, the fact is that we will not know with verifiable certainty what impact any particular model of wind turbine might have on which particular neighbor, given the variances in geographic features and natural contours, as well as the fact that not everyone is affected in the same way."

"My firm conclusion, after so much research, is the major issue with which we as regulators must concern ourselves is the sound that is generated by industrial wind developments. The wind industry reports continued technological advancements that reduce the amount of noise that is generated by turbines and I accept that as a fact. That argument only lends more validity to a regulation, such as ours, that is based more heavily on the sound issue than on an arbitrary setback figure."

"Still, with the deepest respect for the role of grassroots local government and the rights of people to do as they please with their own property, I take solace in the fact that those who consider our regulations to be too strict have two alternatives: they can make their case with their neighbors and obtain a waiver of the protection clauses in the county’s ordinance, or they can work with their township officials to develop a municipal ordinance that better fits that particular township’s needs and the desires of its citizens."

"Those two options – a neighbor to neighbor agreement or the basic American concept of responsive, grassroots local government – strengthen my resolve that, from a countywide perspective, we are putting in place an appropriate regulation. In the absence of any other rules, it protects the innocent neighbors who might otherwise be harmed while, at the same time, allowing industrial wind development to move forward under conditions that address the very critical issue of siting".

"I am sure I speak for Commissioners Morley and Kefover when I express our deepest appreciation to the Planning Commission members, the countless citizens who have spoken out about this important issue, the state and local officials and members of the scientific community who have shared their results and their counsel, and many others who have helped to bring us to this point."

38 comments :

Anonymous said...

yeeeeehawwww!! No maybe we can put the bickering behind and break some ground this spring.......

Anonymous said...

What was the sense of a county ordinance when the townships can do whatever they want anyway?!Paul Heimel addressed the issue of noise,fairly intelligently,but didn't say anything about thier ineffiency in that part of the country?He also said nothing about these metal dinasoars littering the pristine,natural landscape.Like I said before,if not for our good ol govt. passing out free money and tax credits,no one in thier right mind would find it profitable to make this kind of investment on thier own!Without taxpayer subsidies,like most of the govt.'s other bright ideas;the companies behind this "fad" would be going RED, instead of goin GREEN!!Best of luck with your new venture,Potter County!Brad Jones

Anonymous said...

Seems like Susan is the only one with common sense. I guess she wants to serve more than 4 years. Good going Susan. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I bet she is a nice person, but like most politicians, it appears Susan has apirations.

It looks as if the statements on her website no longer hold true?

Susan enjoys..... . enjoying the flowers, wildlife, scenic views and tranquility of Potter County at its best.

Anonymous said...

Not a good reason to vote for turbines. Another four years...
typical cynical Potter County!!

Anonymous said...

"I guess she wants to serve more than 4 years"

Bingo.. You Broke the Code

Anonymous said...

Good job Susan, glad you stuck to your beliefs and not swayed by Doug and Paul.

Also glad the townships can be our "grassroots local government"!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Susan!

Thanks Wanda!

Anonymous said...

Good job Susan? Yes, and better job, Paul and Doug! They are a team that work VERY well together on all of the issues and challenges, not just the turbines. Their combined talents are what this county needs and they will do a superb job not only for this term but the next. Lets not create a division where none exists.

Anonymous said...

The wind companies have already stated that they prefer to stick with whatever ordinances are adopted by the county NOT the townships and since the county has now adopted the strictest regulations, hopefully these wind companies will lose interest and go away. Thank you Paul and Doug for protecting the non-profit seeking residential and land owners and Susan, good luck getting votes next time. I will not be voting for you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Susan probably shot herself in the political foot with the nay vote. However in my opinion it was the right vote for the future of energy. None of us lives on an island anymore. CW

Anonymous said...

The wind companies are not going to "lose interest and go away." Heck...they might even be more interested in putting up turbines since we now seem to have so many hot air filled windbags in the county like you!

Save the planet!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why? I live in Potter County for the beauty not for ugly turbines!!!!!! Shame on you greedy, greedy landowners!! Who cares as long as you line your pockets!!!!!!!! you are disqusting!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The key word in that last post is "landowners". I guess we just pay taxes on our hundreds of acres of land in the county just so you have a pleasant view. Shame on you for trying to tell everyone else what they can do and what they can't. If you don't like the look of the turbines, don't drive past them!!!

Anonymous said...

We landowners who own land that you enjoy so much appreciate your sense of beauty and love of our land.

Greed is an understatement. Many of us have worked from early morning until very late or all night long most of our lives to keep what is precious to us and to keep Potter County Rural. Its been a way of life that few will ever understand. A farmer's love of the land, his land, is something you will never experience or understand. It's something your born with. I hope that you too will someday be able to experience some sort of self fulfillment and would never expect you to understand a farmer or why he might do the things he does.

Anonymous said...

So as long as we find a way to make it ugly to some,people that want to keep us in the stone ages will go away?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, and better job, Paul and Doug!...Lets not create a division where none exists."

Sounds like an oxymoron to me!

"Thank you Paul and Doug for protecting the non-profit seeking residential and land owners"

Non-profit seeking? Real estate is an investment for equity and or income.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of the bloggers who feel Susan's "no" vote was a political move to support her political career. Unless I'm remembering wrong, Susan's election platform regarding wind development took a very cautious position: She was concerned that wind turbines were not necessarily a good thing for Potter County, and she was concerned that wind developers may not make good long-term business partners. That's the reason I voted for her. I have been wondering if Susan knew that Paul and Doug would vote "yes" and that the ordinance would pass, so she took advantage of the opportunity to make a show of voting "no" solely for personal gain. Either way, breaking her election promise or voting for personal gain, I seriously doubt that I will vote for her in the next election.

Anonymous said...

We feel Susan read the research that was done and had to vote accordingly. She took an oath of office and no matter how you feel she felt she had a responsibility to do what was in the best interest of the county.

We should not regulate industry based on what is not absolute. There was no logic in the preconceived notions put forth as examples of researched evidence to support the necessity this ordinance that could have such an adverse effect on all businesses and industry in the county. Therefore Susan most likely did the right thing.

This is serious and isn't something to be taken lightly. We need business and industry in this county. How will our legislators ever be able to provide state tax dollars to a county that has prohibited sound louder than a whisper at boundary lines. What could we possibly use the money for. How can we promote tourism or anything else that without discriminating can stand up to this ordinance. We've been able to come up with nothing so far.

Anonymous said...

"Whisper?"
You are not well informed on the issue. By writing something like that and promoting that major misconception, you are doing a disservice to this dialogue, even though you no doubt mean well.
Do even a small amount of research on what 5 decibels over the ambient sound reading is and you will better understand the issue.
Thank you for your comment and please consider posting a follow-up when you realize that your comment about a "whisper" was misleading and incorrect.
Let's deal with facts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Doug & Paul. A job well done.

Anonymous said...

Farming is caring for the land, not putting some noise maker up on it to be there for all eternity. you are greedy.and to whoever said don't drive by them can go to hell. you are stupid for even writing that i bet you are not even a potter county native. GREEDY! GREEDY!

Anonymous said...

YOU CALL YOURSELF A FARMER? GET REAL YOU WOULD RATHER DESTROY THE BEAUTY OF THE LAND? MY FAMILY ARE STILL FARMERS SO DO NOT JUDGE ME!!!! I ALSO PAY TAXES AND I GET MY FULFILLMENT KNOWING THAT MY POTTER COUNTY WAS RURAL. BUT YOU CHOOSE TO CHANGE IT. GREED IS A TERRIBLE THING FARMER. THE POWER FROM THESE THINGS WILL DO US NO GOOD THEY WILL GO TO THE BIGGER CITIES AND DO NOT GENERATE ENOUGH POWER TO SAY SO. AND WE THE PUBLIC DO NOT EVEN GET A SAY JUST THE LANDOWNERS WHO LINE THEIR POCKETS GOT ANY TIME.

Anonymous said...

Let it blow! Let it blow! Let it blow!!! Let's get the construction going and get those turbines up!!!

Anonymous said...

"Whisper?"

"to a county that has prohibited sound louder than a whisper at boundary lines."

Why are you questioning "Whisper at boundary lines" in that statement?

I would say that is about right...
dB SPL in Real Life:
Sound Environment;
Broadcast studio interior or rustling leaves = 10 (dBa SPL)
10 is the sound pressure level of leaves moving in the wind!

So, Yes, I would have to agree with the bloggers statement "Whisper" as that equals 1/32nd as loud as a conversation!

Susan has the foresight to realize just what a noise regulation on the books in Potter County can do to "future" industry.
It can be cited and recited once it is placed on the books and USED against any industry...
WHY...because it is on the books under another industry!!

Anonymous said...

"AND WE THE PUBLIC DO NOT EVEN GET A SAY JUST THE LANDOWNERS WHO LINE THEIR POCKETS GOT ANY TIME."

Paul stated, : "Over the past two years, I’ve read countless pages of scientific studies"...

You have had just as much time as the rest of us and IF you chose not to look into this matter in that time frame then you have no one to blame but YOURSELF!

I am all for clean-green-energy, I am a large land owner in Potter County, and I have not been asked to sign a lease with AES or any other wind company.

And the statement that the power from these will do "us" no good, who is us?

Our country?

Are you one of these people that thinks because the trubines will be placed on someone elses land and since you live in the same county you should PERSONALLY benefit from thier investment, hard work and time?

Anonymous said...

follow up

Your no secret, there’s no need to respond in whisper! You really should step outside the circle
and take a look in.

Please indulge me and the rest of the viewing audience. Relieve me of my ignorance
with the knowledge that swells within you. No need for costly experts when we have our
very own right here in the county.

What is the ambient sound on record for Potter County? If you have an ordinance which includes it, the recorded ambient sound for the county has to be on record.

You tell me what 5 dba is and apply it to it’s effect on each industry in the county as it applies to
the new ordinance? I apparently don’t know or share your knowledge and expertise on the subject?
Thanks for your concern.

Anonymous said...

As a person involved in legal research and Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code regulation, I can state with certainty that the 5 dB limit over the ambient sound readings at a non-participating property owner's residence, as contained in the Industrial Wind Energy Ordinance in your county, cannot arbitrarily be applied to any other industry or human activity.
The ordinance is specific to electricity generation from industrial wind turbines and spells out specific measurements and sound generation parameters (A-weighting and C-weighting). Perhaps this will put some people's minds at ease: the county HAS NOT and COULD NOT (and I think we all would agree, SHOULD NOT) impose regulations under a Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance that arbitrarily limit noise generation from any human source. I appreciate the opportunity to correct that distortion appearing on this blog multiple times.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean our county?

When you finish your legal research your more than welcome to finish your statement.

Anonymous said...

"What is the ambient sound on record for Potter County"

That is the point, there IS no ambient sound on record for ALL of Potter County, because ambient sound "is existing evenly on all sides"...

"cannot arbitrarily be applied to any other industry or human activity."...
This is what attorney's are for...twist ordinances, gray areas, and sue, sue, sue!
Even when it is not ment for ANY other industry that does not mean you can't be sued by someone that does not like what you are doing and takes you to court.

"Relieve me of my ignorance
with the knowledge that swells within you"
I never said you were ignorant, do you feel you are?

I never said I was an expert either but I have done some research too. So do not keep blogging for people to "DO THE RESEARCH" on a subject then try to tear them down because they do not share your point of view.

"Thanks for your concern"...right back at ya!

Anonymous said...

The follow up wasn't for you
REP. CHICK

"cannot be arbitrarily applied to any other industry" you got that right, it "has to be applied" or its discrimination! Doesn't take a legal scholar to figure that one out.

If you've read the ordinance you know that there was very little no research done or needed done to come up with it. The planning board's proposal was "tweaked" and "fine tuned" to accomodate sgc and the dark sky promoters.

Again, when you finish your legal research finish your statement.

Anonymous said...

To heck with the noise issue....nobody really knows what the baseline is to start with. The wind measurement is all irrelevant becasue there is no set standard for ambient noise. Let's all just grab a shovel and start digging the foundation footers so we can get this wind show on the road!

Anonymous said...

personally, i find utility poles to be an eyesore, but they're every where.

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about stupid people....can we just gather all of them up and send them to Mexico or something.

Anonymous said...

I think we can and you can drive.

Anonymous said...

We already have a place that they gather...it's in the Government offices.

Anonymous said...

BREEZY MCGEE YOU MUST BE LINING YOUR POCKET! ARE YOU EVEN A POTTER COUNTY NATIVE? I BET YOU WENT AND BOUGHT UP A BUNCH OF LAND JUST TO "GET YOUR SHARE" IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

GASBAG JONES DIG A HOLE THEN JUMP IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEN YOU CAN BE THE FOOTER. STUPID!!!!!!!!!