A proposal by Swauk Valley Ranch LLC to create a 380-acre island of land designated for wind-power development got a friendly reception Tuesday from the public at a hearing before the Kittitas County Planning Commission.
Owners of the 3,864-acre ranch west of Hayward Road and north of Horlick Road want the 380 acres to be designated as part of the county’s wind-power resource overlay zone, which was designed for commercial-sized wind farms.
The ranch owners, with the majority of their land in conservation easements in which lands can’t be disturbed, wants to put up five wind turbines on 40 acres. Exact height isn’t known, but they may range from 240 to 270 feet from ground to the tip of a vertically extended rotor blade.
Patrick Farley, representing the families who own the ranch, said the project was following the owners’ environmentally responsible land steward practices and would provide income to help pay for continued land, plant and stream restoration work.
Catherine Clerf of Moe Road spoke favorably about the project, explaining the county’s alternative energy ordinance defines “wind farms” as a project using turbines over 120 feet.
The county didn’t approve a community distributive power ordinance, she said, that would have allowed higher turbines that weren’t in an industrial wind farm classification, thus the applicant has to seek the overlay zone.
There were 12 in the audience when the Swauk Valley proposal was heard.
Planning commission members will meet Oct. 11 to make recommendations on the Swauk Valley proposal and other changes to the county’s land-use plan.
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