Butler Township residents voice concern over solar farm

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BUTLER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — An energy company out of Seattle wants Butler Township supervisors to change an ordinance so they can build a solar farm. But the benefits to the town are still unclear.

The public hearing went on for three hours. People voiced concerns about an ordinance for a solar farm. The debate in Butler Township centers around a a change in zoning. And early on it was obvious there’s a lot on the line.

The amendment establishes a Solar Energy Overlay District to include property owned by Coal Heat Company and Freya Land Company a total of 707.45 acres along Prospect Road and near Allen Lane.
But some local residents believe the plan hits a little too close to home.

“It would basically be in my backyard,” Kathy Kurtz said.

Kurtz says the ordinance would allow Teichos Energy to build only 100 feet from her property line.

“I purchased that property and land up there because I wanted to be in the wildlife and have quiet and, you know, enjoy it up there and I’m concerned that it’s going to disrupt that,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz also worries how it will affect her property value. Others expressed concerns about acid mine water runoff, the impact on wildlife, and noise. The area in question includes previously mined land and protected wetlands.

Township supervisor Frank Polidora says the township is looking at everything from jobs to tax revenue and whether the project would devalue local properties or cause a nuisance. They’ll also look at whether the host agreement is legal.

“Basically it gets down to this, is it going to benefit the township and its citizens?” Polidora said.

There is no time limit for when supervisors need to make a decision. If the solar farm is built, it will be operated remotely. It will not power surrounding homes.

The panel of representatives from Teichos Energy declined to comment.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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