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Kittitas County won’t review wind project this year  

Credit:  By MIKE JOHNSTON senior writer | Daily Record | August 19, 2013 | www.dailyrecordnews.com ~~

The proposed Columbia Plateau Energy Facility LLC wind farm east of Ellensburg won’t be considered this year by Kittitas County land-use officials.

On Aug. 15 the county’s planning official dropped the Mill Creek firm’s proposal from a list of county land-use changes that would be considered for possible approval by the end of the this year.

Columbia Plateau’s proposed expansion of a county wind-power development overlay zone in east county and a project rezone was pulled from this year’s consideration by county Planning Official Robert “Doc” Hansen who said the firm didn’t supply the requested, additional information on the project by an Aug. 14 deadline.

In a letter to Columbia Plateau’s project manager Doug Mitchell of Ellensburg, Hansen said the firm’s June 28 application for the project had inadequate information on whether Columbia Plateau had legal access to the project’s proposed site.

Hansen said the information was important in connection with deciding what land-use issues will be officially considered in planned public open house events and public hearings.

Wind farm plans

The Mill Creek firm seeks a 58-turbine wind farm spread on 3,077 acres about 15 miles northeast of Ellensburg on private land and on parcels owned by the state Department of Natural Resources.

Hansen wrote that the wind-farm application has been moved for consideration to the 2014 cycle to examine changes to the county’s land-use plan.

Earlier comments by Mitchell indicated Columbia Plateau would consider gaining state approval of the wind farm through an alternative process if local county government rejects the project as it did in 2011.

Mitchell did not return phone calls or emails to the Daily Record in time for this story. Emails and phone calls also were not returned from wind-farm site property owner Gene Martin or Keun Ryu, identified as a principal in Columbia Plateau Energy Facility LLC.

Members of an opposition group, Kittitas Residents Opposed to Windfarm Sprawl, said they were pleased with Hansen’s decision but were disappointed that they may face having to work against the project again in 2014.

“It’s a bitter-sweet kind of thing,” said KROWS group member Greg Tudor of Secret Canyon Road late last week. “I mean, we fought it in 2011, and then again this year and we’re successful again. But it looks like we’ll have to keep going.”

KROWS concerned

Tudor, who with his wife Barbara made their home in 2002 in the rural area west of the wind farm site, said the opposition group will be meeting together soon to consider legal action to permanently halt any further applications to the county for the same wind farm on the same property.

“It’s crazy we have to do this over again and again and again,” Tudor said.

The group, he said, has overlapping members and supporters with County Residents Against PacifiClean, an opposition group attempting to block a proposed commercial-sized composting facility from being established in the county.

Harland Radomske, a rural farm and ranch owner with property next to the wind-farm site, said from the beginning he and KROWS pointed out to county officials the mistakes, inconsistencies and deficiencies in Columbia Plateau’s application.

Radomske retained his own attorney who advised the county to drop the wind farm application because of the deficiencies and lack of accurate information, or at least put it on the 2014 list for land-use changes until the information is forthcoming.

“We’re pleased that the county has also realized the deficiencies that are in (Columbia Plateau’s) application,” Radomske said. “And now they seem to agree with us.”

Sale pending

The Radomske family in May began the process to sell their 580-acre farm and ranch through an auction, a move caused by health problems. When the June 28 wind farm application was submitted it was obvious it likely would have a negative impact on the sale and the land’s scenic views and property value, said Radomske.

Radomske said he owns the legal access, or easement, in the area of the wind farm and told county officials Columbia Plateau didn’t have any access.

He also claimed Columbia Plateau doesn’t have active leases of DNR land as it indicated in its application.

“The action of the county planning official is consistent with the complaints about the application that we made clear through my attorney,” Radomske said. “It’s not right to allow the community out here and the general public to be repeatedly subjected to having to fight this thing.”

Source:  By MIKE JOHNSTON senior writer | Daily Record | August 19, 2013 | www.dailyrecordnews.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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