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County should be careful in considering wind energy development

Like all counties in Wyoming, Albany County has a comprehensive plan which guides policymakers where growth and various land uses should take place, consistent with the vision and values defined with extensive input from the public and stakeholders. The overarching theme that emerged from this process is that county residents want to keep the county rural, conserving its traditions and character, supporting agriculture, wildlife, habitat, and scenic vistas.

The plan mentions over and over the importance of assuring agricultural and rural identities remain intact by preserving and protecting open landscapes. It declares Albany County’s natural beauty and landscape are its prized assets and claims its rich physical landscapes with their visual amenities and natural resources as highly valued by both residents and visitors. It acknowledges degradation of these resources as a leading negative consequence of development, potentially dissuading the location of new businesses. It recognizes the increasingly rare and unique amenity of dark night skies and the importance of preserving the county’s cultural resources. The county’s observatories and recognized cultural resources are located in the southern part of the county, along with 80% to 90% of the county’s rural population. It mentions the threat to existing scenic vistas on highway corridors, particularly mentioning those “front door” corridors in southern Albany County as being encroached.

The plan also specifically acknowledges the challenges to growth in the southern part of the county, and the need to pay particular attention to development there. Indeed, it is different from the north half where three industrial wind farms will occupy over 100,000 acres, on single ranches as large as 55,000 acres.

The introduction to the plan presents the huge challenge for policymakers in assuring development is in accordance with the wishes of its residents when it states, “…each person’s decision on how to use their property potentially affects the properties and quality of life of others, and sometimes many others…..thus the pattern of development you approve influences quality of life, health, safety and welfare, and cost to the public in the present and in the future.” Please guide us prudently during deliberations on wind siting.

Ruth Sommers

Tie Siding