Public meeting dominated by anti-turbine sentiment
McVEYTOWN – The Friends of Jacks Mountain group held a meeting about the proposed wind turbines on Jacks and Stone mountains Thursday evening.
Cindy Harvey, of FJM, a turbine opposition group, opened the meeting commenting that those speaking were there to show the facts and show their love for the mountains.
“You have the option to be heard tonight,” Harvey said. “We want you to have an educated opinion on the turbines.”
Greg Grove, founder of Stone Mountain Hawk Watch, was there to speak about the changes in the migration patterns of birds if the turbines were built.
“Our mountains are a major migration corridor for falcons and hawks,” Grove said. “Thirteen or 14 different species come through every fall.”
Grove also said the bird that brings the most watchers to the area is the golden eagle, with the bald eagle also bringing many watchers.
Shawn MacDuff, president of Hyner Hang Gliding Club Inc., out of Hamburg, said the group travels to many sites, the most popular of which is Jacks Mountain.
“We have been hang gliding on the mountain since the late 70s or early 80s,” MacDuff said. “Most people don’t realize it has been that long because we are so quiet, but your local economy notices it.”
MacDuff said when his group comes to the area, members eat at the restaurants, use the gas stations and stay in the bed and breakfasts. MacDuff said his group tries to help the economy when visiting.
“If the wind turbines are built, and as an outsider you don’t want me to tell you what to do with your mountain, there won’t be enough room for us to glide,” MacDuff said.
Karl Streidieck, president of the locally-based Mifflin Soaring Association, echoed MacDuff, saying the popularity of the mountain will decrease if turbines are constructed. Streidieck said every year a competition is held here that brings people from all over the country, which brings a lot into the local economy during that time.
“The turbines will decrease and eliminate this competition in the area. It will move elsewhere,” Streidieck said.
Laura Jackson, president of another turbine opposition group Save Our Allegheny Ridges, spoke about what she has learned about wind turbines and the impact they will have on the watershed and health of those living in the area. She said the two companies that have plans to build wind turbines are Volkswind and E.ON.
Jackson gave a presentation similar to one she gave at a Rotary meeting in October, but also added that Pennsylvania ranks 22nd out of 50 states in wind resource creation. She also said Pennsylvania produces the second highest amount of electricity already, but 30 percent of that goes to other states.
In regards to the effects on the watershed, Jackson said the trees help with erosion and water run off.
Jackson also said there are some negative health impacts to the noise frequencies coming from the turbines, and some people become affected by the shadow flicker of the blades rotating. She did say however, that not everyone feels these effects.
Members of the public who attended also had the chance to voice their opinions.
Paul Myer, of Oliver Township, asked what the underlying motivation was for the the turbines. Jackson responded the original push was to stop global warming, but now it has turned into an economic push.
Jenny McArdle, of Granville Township, asked what stops the companies building these turbines from leaving them behind when the money is not there anymore. Jackson said this is when it falls on the individual townships to work something into the ordinance they create.
Representatives from Volkswind and E.ON were not able to attend the Thursday meeting.