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Commission denies wind ordinance

It was standing room only at Monday's public hearing during the Iron County Commission meeting addressing a proposed wind ordinance amendment recommended by the Iron County Planning Commission. The ordinance was not passed, at the urging of the public, so further studies could be conducted relating to fire hazards, erosion impact and power transmission corridors associated with wind farms.

PAROWAN -- It was standing room only at Monday's public hearing during the Iron County Commission meeting addressing a proposed wind ordinance amendment recommended by the Iron County Planning Commission.

The ordinance was not passed, at the urging of the public, so further studies could be conducted relating to fire hazards, erosion impact and power transmission corridors associated with wind farms.

The original wind ordinance was passed in February 2008, but it has undergone changes during the past 10 months to create protected zones within the county for wind energy projects without having them obtain conditional use permits, in addition to making sure the zones are regulated for safety, health and other factors.

Wasatch Wind has expressed an interest in building a 1,400-acre wind farm in Iron County's Harmony Mountains on Bureau of Land Management property, five miles north of New Harmony, west of Interstate 15. The project would include seven miles of transmission lines. Those lines would tie into an existing power grid by energy generated from 50 wind turbines producing more than 100 megawatts of power, which is enough to serve 80,000 households.

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PAROWAN -- It was standing room only at Monday's public hearing during the Iron County Commission meeting addressing a proposed wind ordinance amendment recommended by the Iron County Planning Commission.

The ordinance was not passed, at the urging of the public, so further studies could be conducted relating to fire hazards, erosion impact and power transmission corridors associated with wind farms.

The original wind ordinance was passed in February 2008, but it has undergone changes during the past 10 months to create protected zones within the county for wind energy projects without having them obtain conditional use permits, in addition to making sure the zones are regulated for safety, health and other factors.

Wasatch Wind has expressed an interest in building a 1,400-acre wind farm in Iron County's Harmony Mountains on Bureau of Land Management property, five miles north of New Harmony, west of Interstate 15. The project would include seven miles of transmission lines. Those lines would tie into an existing power grid by energy generated from 50 wind turbines producing more than 100 megawatts of power, which is enough to serve 80,000 households.

While it is estimated to take up to five years for the Spanish Fork company to receive BLM approval, Iron County is amending its ordinance in preparation of that project and other future wind energy proposals.

Iron County Community Planner Todd Stowell gave an in-depth presentation about the amended wind ordinance before public comment was entertained. He said changes addressed small wind energy systems as well as large commercial systems.

"The proposed revisions for the small wind energy systems are more lenient than the existing ordinance when it comes to lot size requirements," Stowell said. "Currently (the ordinance) requires a five-acre minimum in an R-5 residential zoning, whereas in the proposal both the residential two-acre, and in some instances one-acre zones, will allow small wind energy systems."

Noise restriction is more stringent in the amended ordinance, requiring that noise must be kept to a level that does not disrupt sleep patterns of neighboring property owners and applies to both small and large wind energy systems.

"There are different standards for the small and large wind energy projects but the same concept applies that you do not disrupt sleeping neighbors," Stowell said.

The change to the large wind energy system that created controversy was the proposed wind energy zoning overlay, which was identified purely from a land use compatibility perspective and did not entail any wind testing.

"To be proactive, the county is rezoning the Escalante Desert area with overlay. We are excluding areas in Enterprise and New Castle and other residential areas in those overlay zone areas, but for the most part the West Desert," Stowell said. "In order to do a wind farm, you have to be within the zoning overlay area. If a wind project is not in the overlay, it can apply for rezone to have overlay apply to their property so it does not rule out the project 100 percent, but must go through procedurally significant steps in order to obtain the wind overlay."

Those steps in the proposed ordinance require projects to demonstrate outside of the zoned overlay areas:

They have wind resources with testing and proven economical data.

Must meet a visual impact review.

Must reside three miles from city growth areas and three miles from national parks and monuments.

Areas determined as "borderline use" were not zoned to allow wind energy developers some flexibility, Stowell said.

Kay Carter, representing the Kanarraville Town Council, requested that when the county bond for such wind energy projects that it include fire protection not currently addressed in the ordinance.

"My cousin flies planes in California and fights wildfires and he was telling me that a lot of these fires are caused by these wind farms. ...and after the fire in New Harmony this summer, we're scared," she said.

Harmony Mountain residents Marlene and Robert Huston identified the lack of erosion control in the ordinance that is already causing flooding, threatening residential homes in their area and admonished the commission to put in place more stringent requirements.

Dan Gale, also of New Harmony, said he would like to see designated transmission line corridors in place prior to a project's arrival.

"To what extent are those already established and do they have to be established prior to the ordinance because, once again, this power has got to go somewhere?" Gale asked.

Commissioner Wayne Smith acknowledged the public's concern and advised legal counsel.

"Let's take a look at those concerns and then get the recommendations and then review the ordinance again," he said.


Source: http://www.thespectrum.com/...

JAN 12 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24104-commission-denies-wind-ordinance
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