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County permits Dunlap wind farm; More discussion of building permit fees than conditional use permit

PacifiCorp was granted a conditional use permit for its Dunlap Ranch Wind Energy Project by the Carbon County Planning Commission on Monday. The Planning Commission voted unanimously, after a public hearing, to grant the permit to allow PacifiCorp to build the wind farm on mostly private land about eight miles north of Medicine Bow.

PacifiCorp was granted a conditional use permit for its Dunlap Ranch Wind Energy Project by the Carbon County Planning Commission on Monday.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously, after a public hearing, to grant the permit to allow PacifiCorp to build the wind farm on mostly private land about eight miles north of Medicine Bow.

Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp vice president for renewable resource acquisition, asked the planners to grant a conditional use permit for the project, which includes a substation and 11-mile-long transmission line, under a single building permit.

He asked the planners to remove one of 16 conditions from the conditional use permit. The one PacifiCorp wanted removed said "each individual structure" will require a separate building permit.

Tallman said it would be "expensive" for PacifiCorp to obtain a building permit for each wind tower and transmission pole.

The hearing was held on PacifiCorp's application for a conditional use permit in the ranching, agricultural, mining zone, not on the building permit. The Planning Department would issues a building permit separately after the project received its conditional use permit.

Planning Director... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

PacifiCorp was granted a conditional use permit for its Dunlap Ranch Wind Energy Project by the Carbon County Planning Commission on Monday.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously, after a public hearing, to grant the permit to allow PacifiCorp to build the wind farm on mostly private land about eight miles north of Medicine Bow.

Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp vice president for renewable resource acquisition, asked the planners to grant a conditional use permit for the project, which includes a substation and 11-mile-long transmission line, under a single building permit.

He asked the planners to remove one of 16 conditions from the conditional use permit. The one PacifiCorp wanted removed said "each individual structure" will require a separate building permit.

Tallman said it would be "expensive" for PacifiCorp to obtain a building permit for each wind tower and transmission pole.

The hearing was held on PacifiCorp's application for a conditional use permit in the ranching, agricultural, mining zone, not on the building permit. The Planning Department would issues a building permit separately after the project received its conditional use permit.

Planning Director Steven Brown said building permit fees are intended to recoup costs, such as staff and attorneys' time, necessary to research and approve a project.

With the cost of each wind turbine approaching $500,000, each building permit could cost $1,000, the maximum price the county can charge, he said.

But Brown said he has yet to finish researching the county's costs for the most comparable nearby wind facility, PacifiCorp's neighboring Seven Mile Hill Wind Farm.

Planning attorney Jim Bell said the department's current fee schedule wasn't designed with wind farms in mind. He recommended building permits be issued based on costs to the county after Brown finishes researching those costs.

Planning Commission Chairman Troy Maddox said 200 turbines plus nearly 100 other structures needed for the transmission line, substation and office buildings could add up to a permitting cost of close to $300,000.

"I think PacifiCorp would prefer a single building permit for the farm," he said. But, "We need a whole lot more than $1,000 to operate on," he added.

Although a total cost of nearly $300,000 is expensive, Planner Richard Wilson said $1,000 is not enough.

Single building permits have been issued for previous wind farms, but a recent reinterpretation of rules led County Attorney Cindy DeLancey to decide, "A permit is needed for each structure out there."

DeLancey said lots of planning staff time, her time and Bell's time has been spent on the Dunlap project, and the building permit fee should reflect that time, as well as other services the county provides.

Brown said rural addressing and E-911 requirements for individual addresses for each turbine and power pole are among the "reasons why we feel an individual permit is required for each structure."

Wilson asked PacifiCorp for exact maps of the new wind farm.

"If we have to go in there with county emergency response, I'd like to know where they're going," he said.

Planner Barry Bryant said a rancher who builds three new barns would need separate building permits for each, so it wouldn't be fair to issue a single permit to the power company.

Chad Teply, PacifiCorp vice president for resource development and construction, asked the planners, "Do you truly want to evaluate this in that much detail, that much paperwork?"

Near the end of the more than two-hour public hearing, Tallman said, "We didn't intend for this to be a difficult issue to deal with today. We're comfortable the county will come to a fair and reasonable solution."

The Planning Commission voted to issue the conditional use permit with no change in the language requiring building permits for each structure and no determination of building permit fees.

Tallman said a building permit application is to be filed at a later date.


Source: http://www.rawlinstimes.com...

AUG 25 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21894-county-permits-dunlap-wind-farm-more-discussion-of-building-permit-fees-than-conditional-use-permit
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