Columbia Plateau Wind Energy Facility’s wind farm turbines will be out of sight and out of the way of a major opponent of the proposed project east of Ellensburg, according to a company spokesman.
Columbia Plateau Project Director Doug Mitchell of Ellensburg said rancher Harland Radomske won’t see the planned turbines from his property, nor will they interfere with the use of his private airstrip, according to a site-specific turbine location map.
A property-owner group against the project, Kittitas Residents Opposed to Windfarm Sprawl, said county government should reject the wind farm application.
Mitchell, in a statement for Columbia Plateau of Mill Creek, said the tower nearest Radomke’s airstrip is two miles away, not a quarter-mile distant. A 500-foot ridge and Bonneville Power Administration power lines run between the airstrip and the nearest turbine tower, Mitchell said in a statement.
“Mr. Radomske’s concern for the viability of his airstrip has no basis in fact,” Mitchell said.
He added that the airstrip’s take-off and approach are at right angles to the direction of the (closest) tower.
Mitchell has said other changes to turbine locations and reducing the project’s size from a 2011 proposal will keep turbines mostly out of the view of rural residents living near the valley floors in between ridges and limit the number of visible turbines.
Mitchell said the reconfigured and downsized wind farm with up to 58 turbines on 3,077 acres will produce jobs, new county tax revenue and support local renewable energy initiatives.
Radomske, a spokesman and supporter of KROWS, said turbine location inconsistencies found in different maps in the company’s June 28 application are one of the reasons Kittitas County government should reject the wind farm application. He said the company’s first proposal in 2011 had the closest turbine about a quarter-mile from his property line.
“Some of the maps were from the (2011) application and other maps showed what looked like changes to where they wanted to put the turbines (different from 2011),” Radomske said about the new application. “Which is right? That application should have been accurate when it was first submitted at the deadline.”
Another part of the new application indicates a wind farm project area proposed at 6,500 acres, the 2011 initial proposal, and another page says it is down to 3,077 acres, Radomske said. One shows up to 58 turbines proposed, elsewhere it says 55, he added.
The application is filled with similar conflicts, omissions and incomplete details, he said.
The KROWS opposition group contends Columbia Plateau shouldn’t be allowed by county government to correct the application and keep adding more, updated information past the June 28 deadline.
The group wants the county Community Development Services department to reject the application in light of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Opponents say nearly the same project was unanimously turned down by two county government boards in 2011.
At the least, KROWS members, including Radomske, want the county to declare the wind farm application not adequate to be considered for this year’s changes in the county’s land-use plan and policies, leaving the door open for Columbia Plateau to apply again before the June 2014 deadline.
More info sought
County Planning Official Robert “Doc” Hansen said Columbia Plateau officials have been told to provide more, detailed information as soon as possible on the proposed 58-turbine wind farm.
Hansen said if the information from the company doesn’t arrive in a timely manner, he will consider recommending to county commissioners the Columbia Plateau application be dropped from this year’s consideration.
Information added past the deadline would allow county staff to better assess the project’s possible impacts on the environment, he said, under procedures outlined in county code and the State Environmental Policy Act.
More information and details can be submitted by the proponents after the application deadline as directed by the county, he said, because what’s being sought is a site- and project-specific proposal whose probable impacts can be assessed, rather than a general change in the land-use designation of a parcel without a specific project.
Columbia Plateau submitted its application prior to this year’s June 28 deadline. It is being reviewed by staff, he said.
One application is a site-specific rezone to expand the east-county boundaries of the wind-power overlay zone. The expansion would take in land outside the zone for the planned wind farm, a combination of private property and state Department of Natural Resources parcels.
Another proposed amendment would change the county’s land-use plan allowing a wind farm development in the expansion area 15 miles east of Ellensburg.
As an example, Hansen said the county also requested more information on the commercial composting facility proposed by PacifiClean Environmental of Spokane. He added proponents can submit a site-specific project application as many times as they wish, but that doesn’t mean it will, ultimately, be approved.
Attorney Carolyn Lake of Tacoma, who is representing Radomske, disagrees with Hansen and has told the county it should immediately drop the application because county officials in 2011 rejected a similar project. She said the rejection would be in accordance with legal doctrines.
Rejection should also come, she said, based on the precedent of court decisions, a lack of details and deficiencies in the application, and a lack of property access and state land lease agreements.
Mitchell, on behalf of Columbia Plateau, said the firm’s initial wind farm application met the June 28 deadline and is considered vested for county review.
“The issues Radomske raises are with the county, not with Columbia Plateau Wind Energy,” Mitchell said in a statement. “We are following the process required of us by the county.”
Radomske said members of KROWS are forced to spend money, time and effort to protect their property rights, land values, scenic views and the environment from a project that was rejected in 2011.
Radomske said if the county takes the stance that Columbia Plateau can continue to submit application information at the request of the county he and KROWS will likely take legal action against the county.
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