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Wind turbine debate continues  

The commissioners meeting ended almost as quickly as it began. A decision trumped by yet another technicality that will send the issue back to the Bingham County Planning & Zoning.

“One of the members of the planning and zoning board…Mr. Collier owns property adjecent to the proposed project.”

That makes the earlier decision by the P&Z a possible conflict of interest. Now, a controversial issue over a wind farm in Bingham County will have to be re-heard by the planning and zoning commission which includes another public comment period.

Commissioner Wayne Brower/Bingham County: “It is frustrating because we fully thought that from the last meeting that we could review some of the facts that had – come to a decision when we met today.”

The plan by Ridgeline Energy is to construct 150 wind turbines on land owned by Kelly Bingham, a fourth generation family still using hundreds of acres to graze cattle and grow crops. The wind farm would give his family the financial ability to keep the land intact for future generations.

Kelly Bingham/Landowner: “Thats the way we’d like to keep it, keep the ground in one piece and keep it all for generations to come.”

The reason for the controversy, location to Wolverine Canyon is – in Bingham’s opinion the biggest misconception. It sits several miles away and hidden from view by mountains and hills.

Kelly Bingham: “Wolverine Canyon, it’s back over here away from us – it’s a full mile from where we stand right now.”

But opponents say the turbines would only distract from Idaho’s natural beauty – land owners like Frank Vandersloot says he supports wind turbines but not here.

Frank Vandersloot: “As an Idaho resident and Idaho citizen, I am really concerned about the precident that it sets to put 150 windmills in an area as pristine Wolverine Canyon. Using the same zoning laws that are supposed to protect those areas, thats what I’m concerned about.”

As for Ridgeline Energy, Vice-President Rich Rayhill says they are confident they will eventually start construction.

Rich Rayhill/Ridgeline Energy: “Hopefully we will be building in ’09.”

Since this error was caused by the county – they will pick up the tab on listing the public comment period again. That may run several hundred dollars, they also said they won’t charge those who filed an appeal this second time around.

As for feeling on a potential outcome – it was close last time so it’s anyone’s guess at this point.


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