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Natrona County Commission will revisit wind energy permits

The county's development department has presented suggestions to the Natrona County Commission to possibly revise a last-minute amendment to an early November resolution requiring mountain residents to obtain conditional use permits -- more complicated than regular permits -- to erect domestic wind turbines. ...But the last minute change irked mountain residents, who persuaded the county's development department to hold a public meeting to determine the support for the conditional use permits.

A majority of property owners on Casper Mountain want to erect wind energy turbines through the same process as the rest of Natrona County, but that will require a change to recently approved rules.

The county's development department has presented suggestions to the Natrona County Commission to possibly revise a last-minute amendment to an early November resolution requiring mountain residents to obtain conditional use permits -- more complicated than regular permits -- to erect domestic wind turbines.

Commissioners voted in early November to allow county residents to permit domestic wind turbines in all zoned areas.

But the last minute change irked mountain residents, who persuaded the county's development department to hold a public meeting to determine the support for the conditional use permits.

The department's staff mailed more than 900 invitations to property owners on the mountain, and 60 attended the Nov. 24 meeting, according to a Dec. 9 memo from development department director Blair Leist to the commissioners

Leist and Trish Chavis of the department outlined the regulatory issues, and issues about small wind energy systems including noise... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A majority of property owners on Casper Mountain want to erect wind energy turbines through the same process as the rest of Natrona County, but that will require a change to recently approved rules.

The county's development department has presented suggestions to the Natrona County Commission to possibly revise a last-minute amendment to an early November resolution requiring mountain residents to obtain conditional use permits -- more complicated than regular permits -- to erect domestic wind turbines.

Commissioners voted in early November to allow county residents to permit domestic wind turbines in all zoned areas.

But the last minute change irked mountain residents, who persuaded the county's development department to hold a public meeting to determine the support for the conditional use permits.

The department's staff mailed more than 900 invitations to property owners on the mountain, and 60 attended the Nov. 24 meeting, according to a Dec. 9 memo from development department director Blair Leist to the commissioners

Leist and Trish Chavis of the department outlined the regulatory issues, and issues about small wind energy systems including noise visual impacts, public safety, property values, and dangers to birds.

Through a survey based on properties owned by the attendees, 52 voting properties on the mountain supported the regular permit process while 32 supported the conditional use process.

But when the votes were analyzed by the two zoned areas on the mountain, the development department saw other trends.

Properties surveyed in the area zoned MR-1 favored by an 18-13 margin the conditional permit process over the permitted use process, although some owners of larger acreages commented the rules should be changed to use the regular permit process. MR-1 extends from south of Casper to the top of the mountain, and from the east end to the west end of the mountain. The minimum lot size is 10 acres.

However, the MR-2 property owners by a 38-15 margin favored the regular permitted use process over the conditional use process. MR-2 covers the top of the mountain and the south slope but is bordered by ranch land on its east and west edges. The minimum lot size is 5 acres.

After the development department reviewed the survey results, it offered four options for the commissioners as they weigh protecting private property rights while maintaining the social good, Leist wrote.

-- Maintain the current system.

-- Change both zoned areas to permit by right instead of the more cumbersome conditional use process.

-- Change MR-2 to permit by right when a property is larger than 20 acres, and don't change MR-1.

-- Change MR-2 to permit by right regardless of acreage, and change MR-1 to permit by right when a property is larger than 20 acres.

Reach at (307) 266-0592, or at Tom.Morton@trib.com.


Source: http://casperstartribune.ne...

DEC 22 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/18369-natrona-county-commission-will-revisit-wind-energy-permits
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