Another meteorological tower is going up on Diamond Mountain.
The Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors overruled a March 2 decision by the Lassen County Planning Commission and unanimously approved a use permit for a met tower that will collect wind data on the slopes Diamond Mountain.
The met tower will be located about seven miles southwest of Susanville and about two-and-one-half miles past the end of the pavement on Gold Run Road. Land in the area ranges from 40- to 600-acre parcels historically used for timber production. The Lassen National Forest also owns other parcels in the area.
According to the planning commission, the met tower is exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it is a temporary structure designed to collect data regarding possible wind resources on the property.
County staff could not explain why the planning commission approved a use permit application by the same applicant for an identical met tower near the intersection of Highway 139 and Cleghorn Road at the same meeting.
The met towers would be temporary 197-foot high structures that would collect wind data.
According to the minutes from the planning commission’s meeting, Commissioner Rick Stewart said he had no problems with collection devices, but “he has serious concern with a wind farm at the top of Gold Run.”
Jeff Pudlicki, a district forester for the applicant W. M. Beaty and Associates, the company that manages the land for Red River Forests, said he shares Stewart’s concern, but those issues would be addressed “if and when a wind turbine project is proposed.”
According to the minutes, “Commissioner Stewart stated that when the commission considered the Invenergy applications, they were asked to not make a nexus between met towers and wind turbines, but (he) has difficulty doing that. The only reason the applicant is collecting data is with the anticipation, should it be financially feasible, to develop a wind turbine. He thinks there is a direct nexus and can’t separate those two issues.”
Lassen County District 3 Supervisor Larry Wosick said the only reason the planning commission denied the use permit application was because the met tower was considered “the gateway” to a project.
Wosick said the met tower would not be easily visible, and he downplayed the concern about its effect on local wild life habitat such as the Sage Grouse.
“There always seems to be some little varmint around when you want to do something,” Wosick said. “It’s like they’re trying to find reasons to say no throughout the whole thing” even if it means “ignoring what the community feels.”
According to the planning commission minutes, the met tower would be “detrimental to the health, safety, peace, morals, comfort and general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of such use and be detrimental or injurious to property and improvements in the neighborhood or to the general welfare.”
Planning Commissioners Stewart, Tim Purdy and Bob Beckett voted to deny the use permit. Commissioner Aaron Albaugh vote to allow it, and Commissioner Toni Poulsen was absent.
District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle said county staff went out of its way to provide information for the planning commission, and the board of supervisors appoints the planning commission. He said the use permit for the met tower should have been approved, and the merits of a project can be debated once a project is proposed.
District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle said he has nothing against the collection of scientific data. He also said a local radio station has reported public opposition to this met tower, but he hasn’t seen that, so he will be voting to approve the use permit.
Pudlicki asked the board to overrule the planning commission’s decision immediately so the project will not be delayed.
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