PIERCE — After making a number of changes to proposed wind turbine zoning regulations for Pierce County, the County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a motion recommending those regulations be approved by the Pierce County Board of Commissioners.
The action took place Monday evening, Sept. 18, at a regular commission meeting. Commission members spent an hour going through the proposed regulations and, during that time, amended or eliminated some regulations. The vote was 9-1 to make the changes discussed and recommend the regulations to the Pierce County Board for approval.
The county commissioners will have the final say on the updated wind turbine regulations. The board can approve the regulations, make changes or not allow the construction of wind turbines in Pierce County.
Pierce County Zoning Administrator Heather McWhorter said at Monday’s meeting, the commissioners will hold a public hearing to consider the new regulations, and they have also discussed holding a type of town hall forum, giving county residents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the issue of wind turbines in the county.
Opposition and Suggestions
Following the discussion by the zoning commission members, individuals from the audience were allowed to come forwards and voice their opinion, or suggest any changes or additions they would like to see made to the proposed regulations.
A number of people spoke. The requests were varied but all asked for stricter regulations in one form or another or not allowing the construction of wind turbines in any part of the county. No one from the audience spoke in total support of the regulations. Setbacks, clustering and hours of operation were addressed. Larger setbacks from occupied dwellings, from Wildlife Management Areas and State Recreation Area, wet lands and creeks were requested. Setbacks in the regulations area 2,700 feet from a non-participating dwelling and Public Conservation Lands (WMA, SRA).
Clustering, or the grouping of turbines closely together, was a regulation eliminated by the commission from the proposed regulations, Audience members asked that it be put back in.
Shorter hours of operation were requested. He hours of operation designated in the regulations are sunrise to sunset.
Nose level regulation was eliminated from the regulations by the commission. There was a request it be reinstated to the proposed regulations.
Following the public statement period, commission members made no further changes to the regulations and approved the motion 9-1 to recommend them for approval to the County Board of Commissioners.
The county board planned to discuss the regulations at its Monday, Sept. 25, meeting.
The commission members voted as follows: No, Gerry Krueger; Yes, Neil Bloomquist, Randall Gansebom, Charles Hoffmann, Dwaine Hoffman, Tom Nathan, Ranea Rystrom, Larry Schaefer, Byron Wragge and Ryan Zimmerman.