The Sweetwater County Commissioners are poised to approve a new set of rules regarding potential wind farms throughout the county.
According to Eric Bingham, director of the county’s planning and zoning department, the regulations will be brought before the governing body Aug. 4. There is currently a comment period in place for the regulations, though B no comments have been submitted for the most recent draft.
The county’s planning and zoning staff have worked on the regulation since June 13, 2012, when representatives of ENXCO, now part of EDF Renewable Energy, and Rock Springs Attorney Clark Stith made recommendations to the proposed regulations.
According to Bingham, one of the major issues brought up involved noise problems associated with wind turbines. The county decided to contract with a noise specialist, Richard James from E-Coustic Solutions to help draft a noise portion of the regulations.
Bingham said research about potential health hazards from low-frequency sound had come to the commissioners’ attention and they wanted noise guidelines included in the regulations.
Bingham said the initial noise language was drafted into a version presented to the county commissioners Oct. 16, 2012 during a notice of intent hearing. At the end of that hearing, the commissioners sent the language amendment back to the planning and zoning commission to review language changes made after June 13, 2012.
The commission is an appointed group that deals with planning and zoning issues, and sends recommendations to the commissioners.
Another notice of intent hearing took place March 19, after the planning and zoning commission reviewed and approved the draft regulations Feb. 13. The commissioners tabled the hearing to allow for a 60-day comment period. Bingham said staff added more language to address concerns from residents as well as the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council.
According to a summery of the proposed regulations, the additional language allows non-participating landowners to waive noise requirements through a noise easement. The other addition allows applicants for a Wind Energy Conversion System Permit to submit a copy of an Industrial Siting Application in lieu of an environmental report if it meets the county’s requirements.
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