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County denies wind farm plan on appeal

A year after it was granted preliminary approval, a proposed wind farm near Tres Piedras met with denial by the Taos County Commission. ...The county's formal findings and conclusions will be brought before the commission for approval Jan. 5, after which the applicant will have 30 days to appeal the commission's decision. "There were a lot of problems with that application," Martínez said. "I think it would be irresponsible to come in with the same application."

Ayear after it was granted preliminary approval, a proposed wind farm near Tres Piedras met with denial by the Taos County Commission.

The commission heard an appeal Dec. 8 of the preliminary approval for the energy-generating wind farm; the Planning Commission approved the plan, along with height and landscaping variances, Dec. 9, 2008.

The plan called for 40, 400- foot-tall wind-generating turbines on nearly 2,000 acres 25 miles northwest of Taos. About a month after a January filing of the commission's decision, it was appealed by neighboring landowners who thought the development would be detrimental to the area. Before the County Commission could hear the appeal in March, attorney and partner Eliu Romero, representing applicant Taos Wind Power LLC, was granted a writ of prohibition by the District Court. preventing the commission from hearing the matter.

Romero claimed a preliminary plan appeal would be "premature, improper and unlawful." However, he asked the court to set aside the writ of prohibition Sept. 9, before a hearing was held. When the commission heard the appeal Dec. 8, it reversed the Planning Commission's approval based on confusion over who was a "real... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A year after it was granted preliminary approval, a proposed wind farm near Tres Piedras met with denial by the Taos County Commission.

The commission heard an appeal Dec. 8 of the preliminary approval for the energy-generating wind farm; the Planning Commission approved the plan, along with height and landscaping variances, Dec. 9, 2008.

The plan called for 40, 400- foot-tall wind-generating turbines on nearly 2,000 acres 25 miles northwest of Taos. About a month after a January filing of the commission's decision, it was appealed by neighboring landowners who thought the development would be detrimental to the area. Before the County Commission could hear the appeal in March, attorney and partner Eliu Romero, representing applicant Taos Wind Power LLC, was granted a writ of prohibition by the District Court. preventing the commission from hearing the matter.

Romero claimed a preliminary plan appeal would be "premature, improper and unlawful." However, he asked the court to set aside the writ of prohibition Sept. 9, before a hearing was held. When the commission heard the appeal Dec. 8, it reversed the Planning Commission's approval based on confusion over who was a "real party" to the wind farm application.

Interim county manager Adam Baker told the commissioners that Romero filed paperwork with the state Public Regulations Commission in November dissolving Taos Wind Power LLC and forming another limited liability company, Taos Wind Farm. Baker said it was unclear what Taos Wind Power President and CEO Bill Lockwood's position was or whether Romero had the authority to act for the companies himself.

Romero told the commission it was necessary to dissolve Taos Wind Power because the company had no funds to operate, members were not willing to continue financing it and the company had "no viable organization" due to Lockwood's failure to call meetings to plan the operation and organization of the company.

"Mr. Lockwood removed the company office to an undisclosed location and failed to notify the stockholders and the state regulations commission," Romero said.

Romero said the Taos Wind Farm LLC would be wrapping up Taos Wind Power's affairs.

"As far as I'm concerned, that took over everything that the other company had," he said.

However, Lockwood's attorney, Justin Lea, called Romero's dissolution of Taos Wind Power improper and the transfer of authority to the new LLC "completely invalid."

He told the commission Taos Wind Power had been operating from an office in Romero's home until Romero ended the agreement; he said Romero knows how to reach Lockwood.

"Mr. Romero has not made any attempt to do so," Lea said. "He was not the registered agent, and he did not have control over the company to dissolve the company."

Lea said Lockwood contends that Taos Wind Power is not really dissolved, and he requested the commission postpone the hearing until the pair could meet, along with their attorneys, and decide how to move forward. He said resolving the issue may take district court action if no agreement between the parties could be reached. Neither Lea nor Romero returned messages requesting comment.

Barbara Martínez, attorney for wind farm opponent Cerro San Cristóbal Ranch, said her client had been waiting too long for its appeal to be heard, and "at great expense" both in attorney's fees and the sale of real estate. She said the wind farm application had to be disclosed to all potential buyers as long as it was in process.

"This has made it difficult for land sales," she said.

Carol Neelley, attorney for wind farm opponent the Combined Cielito Home and Property Owners Association, also said selling homes in the area has been affected.

"The application is for an industrial project of such a massive size and scale as to dwarf all other commercial special use applications within memory," she said.

She also said the wind farm applicants did not provide enough information to the county, from environmental impacts to commercial viability, to justify the project. After a closed executive session discussion, Com missioners Dan Barrone, An drew Chávez and Joe Mike Durán unanimously voted to reverse the Planning Commission's ap - proval of the preliminary plan.

"After listening to both Mr. Lockwood's attorney and Mr. Eliu Romero, I'd like to say that I'm totally confused as to who the real applicant now is," Chávez said, moving to reverse the Planning Commission's decision "based on the failure of the applicant to demonstrate that it is a real party of interest in these proceedings."

The county's formal findings and conclusions will be brought before the commission for approval Jan. 5, after which the applicant will have 30 days to appeal the commission's decision.

"There were a lot of problems with that application," Martínez said. "I think it would be irresponsible to come in with the same application."


Source: http://www.taosnews.com/art...

DEC 22 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23752-county-denies-wind-farm-plan-on-appeal
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