Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Wyoming
An ongoing protest against Albany County wind energy rules continued on Monday when a petition critical of current rules and carrying more than 1,200 signatures was delivered to the county’s board of commissioners.
The Albany County Planning and Zoning Commission will not recommend sweeping changes to wind energy regulations in the near-term, voting instead last week to support minimal amendments proposed by the county’s planning department.
Albany County’s planning and zoning board moved forward with recommending changes to regulations on wind energy on Wednesday designed to bring the county in line with state statute, but they haven’t ruled out even more stringent measures.
Like all counties in Wyoming, Albany County has a comprehensive plan which guides policymakers where growth and various land uses should take place, consistent with the vision and values defined with extensive input from the public and stakeholders. The overarching theme that emerged from this process is that county residents want to keep the county rural, conserving its traditions and character, supporting agriculture, wildlife, habitat, and scenic vistas.
LARAMIE — Albany County government could be moving toward stopping all wind energy development in the county if it adopts regulations being proposed by a Laramie law firm, a wind energy company representative said this week.
The Laramie City Council is slated to decide whether to back a wind energy development planned for a large swath of land in Albany County next month, but it heard an earful of opposition to the project during a work session Tuesday.
Edwards reminded the commission of the wind energy facility permitting authority the Wyoming Legislature gave counties in 2010. He said that is the most authority the Legislature has given the counties in terms of regulating anything. “Part of that reasoning is because it is such a local issue and affects local people much greater than everything else,” Edwards said. He added that the county cannot regulate things like mining and water quality, “but it does have the authority to fully permit and regulate wind energy facilities.”
Current Albany County regulations are outdated and not stringent enough to accommodate the increase in height and volume of projected turbines, and obviously will not protect our residents, historic landmarks, or state parks. Other Wyoming counties have adjusted their regulations to evolve with the changes in the industry in order to protect their residents and natural resources. Citizens of Albany County deserve that same protection.
A planned wind development project around Tie Siding will have to wait for the Laramie City Council’s blessing, if that blessing ever comes.
RAWLINS — As scores of contract workers flock to Carbon County to help build several major energy projects, questions have emerged over whether the influx is a good idea amid the spread of COVID-19.
The moratorium was proposed in order to allow the commission time to examine the county’s wind energy development regulations and make changes to modernize them. The existing regulations were adopted in March 2009. The demand to look at the county regulations stems from a new potential wind energy development project called Rail Tie Wind Project.
The purpose of the moratorium, as expressed by the residents during the Feb. 12 meeting, is to give the county a chance to evaluate and revise its wind energy regulations. The matter of wind regulations arose as residents found out about the Rail Tie Wind Project. Powered by a Houston-based renewable energy company named ConnectGen, the project will be located on private and state lands near U.S. Highway 287 outside of Tie Siding — if the project passes federal, state and county permitting processes.
The saga of the two planned wind farm projects will continue into the spring, according to Carbon County Planning and Zoning Director Sid Fox. He said as much on Tuesday morning at the first Carbon County Commissioners’ meeting of 2020, when the board rejected the conditional use permit applications for the Lucky Star and Two Rivers wind farms.
RAWLINS — The saga of the two planned wind farm projects will continue into the spring, according to Carbon County Planning and Zoning Director Sid Fox.
The Commission had earlier been approached by Aaron Branam, project manager for EDP Renewables of North America LLC, regarding changes to the county’s land use plans pertaining to wind energy regulations. The commissioners were unanimous in their decision to not change the regulations, citing the welfare of the county’s citizens, environmental impacts, and land values as factors in their decisions.
County Planning Director Sid Fox said a zoning permit is usually required to start construction on a wind farm, but said due to the fact the two were simply requesting to dig holes to beat the colder weather and to meet the requirement for the production tax credit, they did not need the permit.
Commission chairman Wally Johnson said that the new regulations will have a long-lasting impact and effect on Sweetwater County. He says the county took its time to get the regulations right because once wind farms are built they are there forever.
The county first passed a moratorium to give staff time to draw up wind farm regulations, a requirement to fall in line with state laws. But the county’s rules are as of yet unfinished, and the moratorium was set to expire in late June.
Costello said the proposed amendments are based on small wind energy system regulations in other counties throughout the state and region. "They take into account current standards that are pretty much nationwide," he said. "It's nice to consider the rights of the person who wants to put up a wind tower, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the neighbors."
Citing the need for more information, the Albany County Commissioners have sent a proposed amendment to the county's regulations on small wind energy systems back to the county planning and zoning commission.