The Wasco County Court will completely re-hear two related applications by landowners to allow UPC Wind to put meteorological towers on Sevenmile Hill.
That was the decision of commissioners Wednesday, following the news that the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) was kicking back to the court its earlier decision to grant temporary use permits for the wind measurement devices, which could serve as a prelude to a controversial wind-farm on the ridge overlooking The Dalles.
In essence, LUBA agreed with the petitioners, Mark Womble and Gary and Linda Casady, that the county had erred in considering the requests as applications for temporary, rather than conditional use permits.
According to the Wasco County Land Use and Development Ordinance, temporary uses may include those not specified in the ordinance “and not so recurrent as to require a specific or general regulation to control them.”
The county had argued that meteorological towers, not being mentioned in the ordinance chapters that describe uses permitted in specific zones, met these criteria – even though they were listed in Chapter 19 (Energy Facilities) as a use permitted subject to standard.
However, LUBA said the latter listing means meteorological towers are both specified in the ordinance and controlled, indicating they are more properly considered a conditional use.
Following the higher board’s direction, commissioners voted unanimously to consider the requests “de novo” as an applications for conditional use permits.
That means a new set of perhaps marathon hearings must be held within 90 days of their being requested of the court. The most recent hearings on the subject, held Dec. 8, 2006, lasted nine hours.
By Ed Cox
12 February 2008
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