November 17, 2007

Potter County backs off wind turbines; Planning Commission okays relaxed regulations

Potter County Planning Commission (PCPC) continued working on proposed amendments to the county’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance during a sometimes-heated meeting Tuesday night.

Although the amendments remain a work in progress, PCPC did vote to scale back some of the industrial wind turbine restrictions that were approved at the October meeting.

Two of the PCPC members who have strongly supported stricter regulations for turbines, Mitch DeLong and John Nordquist, were absent Tuesday. Lacking a quorum, the commission could not move forward with any action Tuesday until another absent member, Bill Hunter, was summoned from his home.

Revisions approved at Tuesday’s meeting relaxed the setback requirements, which had been established in October at seven times a turbine’s blade height. The new standard calls for setbacks from adjacent properties of five times a turbine’s hub height.

Solicitor D. Bruce Cahilly advised PCPC that some of the regulations approved last month would likely be challenged in court by wind energy companies. PCPC based Tuesday’s actions largely on the less stringent standards contained in a sample ordinance provided by the state.

Affirmative votes were cast by PCPC Chair Wanda Shirk and members Marshall Hamilton, Bill Dean and Rance Baxter. Hunter abstained, citing lack of concrete information upon which to base his decision.

Members of Save God’s Country, a citizens’ group formed in opposition to unregulated wind energy development in Potter County, expressed their disappointment with Tuesday’s vote. They said Planning Commission members failed to consider documentation SGC provided on the health effects and other potential problems of wind turbines.

Endeavor News

17 November 2007

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