Page County officials have extended the timeframe restricting the submission of future wind energy permit applications to the county.
Meeting in regular session Tuesday morning, by a 2-1 vote, the Page County Board of Supervisors approved to extend the current moratorium on wind energy conversion system construction permits for another 180 days. The current moratorium was set to end on September 24 and is now March 29, 2023, with the extension. Supervisors Chair Alan Armstrong says the resolution is the same as the current document but includes modifications to dates to account for the extension. Supervisor Jacob Holmes believes the extension is needed to simplify the process in the new year, should the new board decide to discuss further revisions.
"We can try to hammer it out real hard here in the next 60 days or 50 days or whatever it is, or we can get it out there to the first of the year or whatever if we're going to redo this thing if the board changes," said Holmes. "If we spend a lot of time trying to work this out over the next 60 days and then we change it again in January a little more, it seems like the right thing to do to just wait till then."
The new board is expected to include Todd Maher, who defeated Armstrong in the June Republican primaries, and faces no Democratic challenger in the November general elections. Holmes adds it would also prevent developers from possibly investing resources into a project only for the ordinance to change once again.
Additionally, with just 56 days until the current moratorium expires, Holmes says it could be difficult to thoroughly review the number of old and new issues presented to the board.
"I have a whole big folder marked up with all the things we are trying to go over," said Holmes. "There's been several more things added now, and I've been sent all kinds of things and other ordinances and things like that -- it's a lot to try and figure out all the wording and all that."
Some discussions dating back to the ordinance's adoption in 2019 include, but are not limited to, moving setbacks for non-participating landowners to the property line, and providing a more thorough decommissioning process. More recent suggestions have included requiring aircraft detection lighting systems on wind turbines and clarifying protections for the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. Holmes added that the moratorium isn't required to run until March if they complete the changes beforehand.
Supervisor Chuck Morris, who cast the lone dissenting vote, says he would like to see more efforts in revising the ordinance before extending the moratorium.
"I'd like to table this until we get nearer to the expiration and see what work we can get done between now and the end," said Morris. "So I wouldn't support an extension at least until we've tried to work out whatever issues are perceived to need worked on."
Despite voting in favor of the extension, Armstrong says a work session could still be held within the coming weeks to begin revising the county ordinance.
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