BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho – The Panorama Hill, east of Idaho Falls, was up for debate again as Ridgeline Energy and Bonneville County took sides in the battle for another wind farm.
The proposed Meadow Creek Wind Farm would sit behind Panorama Hill, just south of Highway 26 near Ririe.
Most of the farm would be on private land and out of sight from Idaho Falls. Ririe would see the majority of the 75 turbines on the horizon.
After the project was first declined in May, Ridgeline continued to sit through hearings through the summer in hopes that the appeal meeting Tuesday night would end in their favor.
Ridgeline Project Manager Randy Gardner showed up tonight with a team of experts to make sure all questions were answered.
Gardner was born in Blackfoot and has lived in several parts of eastern Idaho throughout his life and said wind turbines are a better option than many others.
“If I had to choose between living next to a wind farm or living next to a subdivision, I’d take a wind farm any day,” said Gardner.
One of the main concerns during the first planning and zoning meetings was that the turbines would become an eyesore and would diminish property value.
“Take a look at what a wind farm looks like,” argued Gardner, “Take a look out your front door. How many man made structures are between you and where the wind farm is going to be.”
Other concerns include the property tax exemption given to wind farms.
“By being exempt from property taxes, it hurts our schools and hurts our local municipalities,” said Harold Jones, a Ririe resident.
The majority of the crowd seemed to be interested in what the county decides to do when it means allowing land owners to use their land as they want.
“And it’s not my job to tell them that they can’t have horses, cows and wind farms in the same field,” said Gary Seifert, Idaho Falls resident. “To me that isn’t greed, that’s just good economic sense. They’re doing the same thing everybody else does.”
Several people attended from other counties and cities as well who are dealing with similar issues in hopes to be better educated on how to deal with future land use issues in their own communities.
Bonneville County Commissioners said they will make a decision in four to seven weeks.
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