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Minutes: El Paso County Planning Commission votes to deny Golden

These minutes of the El Paso County Planning Commission January 6, 2015 hearing end with the Planning Commission voting to deny recommending approval of the amended Golden West wind energy facility that would site a 250 MW project in the county. Seventy-five people were present in the hearing room to speak either in favor of or in opposition to the project. The final vote was 6-3 to deny the project with the primary reasons for denial being impacts on the health, safety and welfare of the residents, The full minutes for the hearing can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.

SPEAKING IN FAVOR:

Wes Howard 2 reasons I approve of the project 1.) Glad to see this project happening in the U.S., we can replace coal plants. 2.) I have a lot of land and 2,500 fee of line acceptable to me.

Frank Murr property looks the same as in 1950. It is a private company putting their money into our community and agree with it. 

Pete Lowe all over Europe there are windmills and the countries have lowered their dependency on oil.

Cathy Racow impacted with power lines, happy it is a company working with the community.

Jenny Olson agree with Frank & Kathy everybody wants alternate energy as long as it does not impact their property.

Layla Dillie good for the community and I am in agreement with all that has been said. 

Jason Wilson this project basically saved our land. Without this we would have been forced to sell the land.

Gary Paul President of El Paso County Farm Bureau. Applicants have used due diligence to complete this project and we are all supporters of private land rights and support this project.

Nick Carpenter this can help El Paso County with energy and although we may not directly get the energy we could purchase the energy.

Lorenzo Pagan I worked for one of the major railroad companies that come through Colorado Springs and Denver area and I see the amount of coal they bring in and the process and effects to the environment so I am for this project.

SPEAKING IN OPPOSITION:

Laura Foye spent the day after Christmas at the Planning Commission office researching pieces of this proposal regarding the wind farm transmission line and this proposal is regarding a lot of changes not just one or two. I believe that creating this pathway is damaging and would have an ongoing negative impact on my home. Mountain View Electric already has an existing above ground transmission line pathway in the area a little further south. It was on some of the planning maps that Mr. Gil had back in September because he showed me maps that included that pathway as a possibility but it was removed from the proposal because it was not the cheapest and easiest alternative. So please know they do have other alternatives other than cutting through a residential area that currently does not have these high voltage power lines through it.

Joe Shaffer I speak for myself and son, both property owners. We heard about 10 jobs  we are getting, 10 jobs? I’m not against the windmills but against the power lines. 

Don Harrow I live adjacent to this project. I didn’t even know they had an approved route. I was not told the total truth when I asked about why the lines could not be in a main corridor where one would expect to see them rather than through a residential area I was told because of archeological impact. It sure seems to me we could reach a better resolution and I definitely think we could come to a better solution to bury the lines verses impacting all these people in their residential homes. 

Karen Johnson I live at 6510 Falcons Springs Point and I am speaking on behalf of my husband and I and my mother and step-father who own the adjoining 35 acres. The proposed new line goes along our entire west boundary. When we purchased that property about 11 years ago we did our due diligence and researched that there were not going to be any power lines. Our property is less than a year old we have barns on it and we raise horses on it. I have concern about our horses our two barns are located on the west part of the property. The horses run up the hill to where the power lines are supposed to be. There are Golden Eagles and other migratory birds and I know they are not supposed to do construction if there is a nest in the route area.

Barbara Hascek I live in a South Fork area neighborhood with 2.5 acre homes mostly retired very few children. The alignment of the power lines on the Southside of subdivision is what concerns most residents. When you live in a farm land and rural land like we do a quarter mile is not much of a distance.

Russell Watt I would like to mention in Section 32 of the County’s agreement compliant resolution process states project should not do financial burden or other undo impact on existing or future residents and businesses in El Paso County in saying that one of my major concerns is water. I currently live out there and my well is 675 feet deep and I am on a plateau and I am at an elevation of 6,398 feet. They are already talking about using 180 gallons a day just for dust control so I am really concerned where this water is coming from, if it is coming from the Town of Calhan or if it’s coming from behind me that is a major concern for me. I also have a rental property and the tenant has epilepsy and will have to move if the project is approved. Cell phone service and national weather alerts are a concern and I cannot be without those services and they have already said there could be a problem with those. One of the other concerns is fire and the closest fire department is Calhan Fire Department and they do not have the proper training or equipment to handle these types of fires and the closet fire department is Falcon and they are over 14 miles away.

Sandra Wolfe we are going to be surrounded by windmill towers. We were planning on building homes and selling homes out there and these turbines are right on the property that we were going to build on. I totally disagree with the doctor and he should take into consideration the Wind Mill Syndrome and not act like it does not exist. Our property is right on the ridge line and our view is exquisite. 

Gavin Wince This Company is acting like a typical company prepared to scheme etc. I will have 19 towers on my property within a quarter mile from where we plan to build a home.

Millie Weaver the applicant has stated that they are not aware of health effects until after the wind turbines have been constructed so by approving this you would kind of be approving a science experiment to be performed on myself, my unborn child and family and other adjacent residents of the City of Calhan.

Ronald Heffner when I bought in September 2014 I was not told about the windmill farm nor was it disclosed to me so I am of course against it. Number one concern is house values; I have dogs and 15 month old twin girls which I am greatly concerned about. I am close to two towers and concerned about health risks and about mice due to the vibration.

Leslie Poole I am an adjacent, adjacent homeowner from the project, we had no notification of this project. Views will be gone. 

Jay Kennedy this is definitely going to affect our values. The proponents have been paid they are not just letting them go through because they think it is a great idea. The second issue I have is the health issues that have been talked about a little bit there again I can’t say anything because it’s unknown. I moved her 15 years ago and I bought that lot because of the views and because I did not want to be in the city. Now this is being almost crammed down my throat.

Neil Hamilton The South Fork subdivision will be directly impacted by this changing in lines. The easement is 150 feet wide and my house is in the back of the property. Really urge this be postponed. This is being re-routed around us and without enough notice. Micah Rasner received notification 12 days before meeting. This is a 40 acre parcel that I purchased in 1998. The poles would be 100 feet from my property line. They need to go back to the original plan that was already approved.

L.J Mott Director of District 2 of Upper Big Sandy Water District. I received a phone call from Black Nair Energy in Avon, Minnesota asking about withdrawing 32 million gallons of water from Upper Big Sandy Basin. That phone call prompted a meeting with Mr. Dossey and Mr. Gil in which I explained to them the rules of the Upper Big Sandy and how the rules of the Upper Big Sandy would prevent this from happening. The Ground Water Commission controls all of the aquifers that are below Upper Big Sandy boundary which is on the northern end of the wind farm. In terms of water usage for construction there is essentially two components for that 1.) to make concrete and 2) for dust control. The copies of the emails that I gave you put NextEra energy on notice that the Upper Big Sandy aquifer is in a very fragile condition right now and at the end of roughly a ten year drought. All the wells in the Upper Big Sandy are declining and below the Upper
Big Sandy we have bedrock aquifers which everyone knows are declining so we have rules against export. These wells can sell water but in the Upper Big Sandy there are rules that limit how much water those wells can sell. There would be enough water that could legally be sold from these wells to cover the concrete portion but there is not sufficient water that could come from those wells that could cover the dust control portion. NextEra would have to apply for an export from the Upper Big Sandy and at this time we do not have any actions up before the Upper Big Sandy Board. For an export to be approved which would be enough to cover the dust control all of the Directors who are present at the hearing have to approve it. There will be no export approved from the Upper Big Sandy. So there is a limit to where the water can come from. 

Kris Rineck the wind farm would be located in a migratory fly way. Property values have tanked; property values are down 50-60% and that is from people I know who have tried to sell their property. The aquifers are a big problem and wells have dried up already and they have had to drill new wells. Mountain views would be obstructed. Doppler and cell phone service will be an issue.

Richard Hahn my place is my retirement and my family’s inheritance. I Googled Limon and there are no homes within miles of the Limon wind generators. What it comes down to for me is the safety of the people out there.

Joan Wilson I am on the very south western side. The power poles will be all along the trees that line the property. Everything within our subdivision is underground that is one of the advantages to buying in our area. I have neighbors that have problems with heart, hearing and they are scared to death that these towers are going to interfere with their pacemakers and their pets.

Andrew Alexander my wife and I just bought our house in August. Why are we being asked to take the risks considering we are not benefiting from the risk? We are paying the consequences simply for moving into the area.

Brandon Clary I live in the South Fork Subdivision directly to the north of where the new transmission lines are going to go. I heard the question asked earlier about fires; go to Google type in “wind turbine fires” it shows how quickly they can go up. I witnessed one last year and the pieces of the turbine can really travel especially with all the oil and grease that they have on them. We do not want them. They have lights on the top so then we will also have the flashing lights.

Donna Bryant I moved to El Paso County for the views not for the wires. I own two properties that will be affected by this and I received no notification about this situation. I purchased this home just 14 months ago this is my retirement home but I do not want to be faced with having seizers due to the overhead power lines. If I had known 14 months ago I would not have even offered a dollar but I offered more than the asking price because I wanted the view. If the original proposal was underground why can’t it stay underground? Historically above ground power lines are more costly because they are very difficult to maintain. Therefore below ground cables are the way to go. Every model that has been given to us is based on sea level, conditions that do not exist in El Paso County, that don’t exist in Falcon and that don’t exist in Calhan. 

Kristen Miller the road that Donna was referring to that the emergency services had a problem with is an easement that comes along here and continues down the easement It was a washboard and it did cost $100,000 to fix so that we could get the fire department access.

Karen Oliver our property is surrounded by the wind generators. I own 80 acres, my main concern is the impact also of selling the property and being able to get even what I paid for it; recouping the money that I put into it. I have a well and am concerned about how much it will go down. My other concern is 911 services, if they are even able to get our phone calls.

Earnest Mikita very concerned about where water is going in the area. I have the only dairy farm left in the area. Sympathize with opponents because I can’t agree with exporting water.

Carla Lewis own property adjacent to the windmill project. Owned the property for 22 years and we have had two full offers on our property prior to the turbine project. This water should have been worked out long ago. We have 3 wells on our property and have had to have them reset deeper within the last 5 years. We are cattle producers and if we do not have water we cannot water our cattle. If someone told me that a turbine was going to be 680 feet from a house I think I would rethink agreeing to that. I too am very concerned about the towers.

John Aaland property owner on ridge south of Calhan. My biggest concern is water because we are on top of the hill, when we lose our water who will replace it? When we look out over the hill we will see flashing lights.

REBUTTAL:

David Gil (NextEra) provided rebuttal to the comments heard today. He stated that the project is a huge project for both property owners and NextEra. This project has been around since 2007. When project was purchased we were aware of willing property owners. Changes made were in response to comments we received from land-owners, the County and County agencies. Water was a common concern, we met with Mr. Motts and did have a discussion with him regarding the use of groundwater within the Upper Black Squirrel district boundaries and will continue to have further discussions. We have met the County requirements and have worked hard over the last year to meet those requirements. The notification over the holidays was not an effort to decrease the number of people attending or responding. Met with several of these people, talked to several of these people on the phone and answered any questions and addressed concerns. I wanted to address the health concerns, I understand people are scared and have heard a lot of misinformation and that is why I brought in a health expert who has experience, who has a Ph. D., who has worked on this for years. I brought him in as resource and to answer questions for everybody because we do not take the health concerns lightly. 

Tony Ryan , Legal Counsel for the Applicant. In regards to the notices those were sent out per the Land Development Code so we were in compliance with the code. 

DAVID GIL AND KEVIN GILDEA were presented with additional questions from members of the Planning Commission and answered the questions presented. 

DISCUSSION:

BOB NULLI propose with regard to WSEO-14-002 that we recommend denial.

IM TROWBRIDGE please specify which conditions you believe they are deficient in. 

BOB NULL overall including the health safety and welfare. The fact that the approval was to bury the cable and now the proposal is not to bury the cable that to me is a safety factor.

JIM EGBERT I will vote against denial. I believe the information put together is a complete package. I believe with the 39 conditions and 2 notations that this project does meet the requirements.

ALAN CREELY I would vote to deny based on the criteria was to plan and implement land development so that it would be a functionally and aesthetically integrated within the context of the adjoining properties and I do not think that requirement was met.

BOB CORDOVA reason for my voting for denial is property right issues.

PC ACTION: NULL MOVED/CORDOVA SECONDED TO DENY THE REGULAR ITEM NO. 4, WSEO-14-002, GOLDEN WEST WIND ENERGY PROJECT WIND AND/OR SOLAR ENERGY GENERATION PLAN (UTILIZING A WSEO PROJECT- SPECIFIC RESOLUTION), AND THAT THIS ITEM WILL BE FORWARDED TO THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (BOCC) FOR CONSIDERATION. UPON VOTING THE MOTION TO DENY THE REGULAR ITEM NO.4, WSEO-14-002 PASSED BY A VOTE OF 6-3. VOTING FOR THE MOTION FOR DENIAL WAS DILLON, NULL, CORDOVA, GIOIA, RAINEY AND CREELY VOTING AGAINST THE MOTION FOR DENIAL WAS TIM TROWBRIDGE, JEROME
HANNIGAN AND JIM EGBERT .

Elpaso-pcminutes01-06-2015_thumb
El Paso Pc Minutes01 06 2015

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Source: http://adm.elpasoco.com/Dev...

JAN 6 2015
http://www.windaction.org/posts/42526-minutes-el-paso-county-planning-commission-votes-to-deny-golden
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