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Wind farm gets nod from Mohave County

A loophole in the county’s planning and zoning ordinances gave a nearly 47,000-acre wind farm the green light to proceed without having to go through a major zoning process.

The Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of BP Wind Energy North America’s request for a minor plan amendment and a zoning request Wednesday.

In a letter to the commission, Las Vegas developer Leonard Mardian questioned the propriety of designating such a large land change a minor amendment instead of a major amendment to the county’s general plan.

Major amendments to the general plan are usually reserved for very large projects such as massive sub-developments or industrial projects that cover thousands of acres of land or have a major impact on natural resources or the community.

Minor amendments to the general plan can be filed with the county and heard by the commission at any time during the year. Major amendments are only heard by the commission once a year, usually in November.

In 2000, Mardian had to go through the county’s major plan amendment and zoning process in order to receive approval to develop Mardian’s Ranch and the Ranch at White Hills.

The Ranch at White Hills is a proposed master-planned community of about 25,000 homes, with a commercial center, light industrial center, golf course and solar field proposed for more than 26,000 acres near BP’s wind farm.

Mardian’s Ranch is currently a cattle-grazing operation.

A representative of Mardian did not attend the meeting.

Golden Valley resident Jim Kanelos also questioned the propriety of designating the wind farm a minor amendment.

Planning and Zoning Manager Christine Ballard explained the county uses the amount of private land included in a development project to help determine what is a major amendment to the General Plan.

Alternative energy projects that are larger than 3,800 acres of private land and in a rural development area are required to apply for a major amendment, she said.

There is no private land involved with the project, Ballard said.

The entire project, which could generate a maximum of 500 megawatts of power, would be built on more than 38,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management and more than 8,000 acres of Bureau of Reclamation land.

It is supposed to be built between White Hills Road and Temple Bar Road, east of U.S. 93.

The issue will appear before the Board of Supervisors in August.

The project still has to go through a federal environmental impact statement process before construction can start.

A request for a zoning change and amendment to the General Plan for Triangle Airpark was continued at the request of the applicants.