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Albany County has received an application from energy company ConnectGen for the Rail Tie Wind Project, and the permitting process for the commercial project is set to get underway.
According to county planner David Gertsch, the county will follow a process outlined in Wyoming State Statute. First, county officials have 30 days to determine whether the application is complete according to the county’s commercial wind energy siting regulations.
Once the application is considered complete, public hearings will be scheduled with both the Board of Commissioners and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“If we bring it to you and you do deem it to be compete, at that point we schedule all of the hearings,” Gertsch said.
The process of notifying the public of the hearings includes sending certified letters to nearby landowners, publishing a legal notice in the Boomerang and placing signs on public roads near the project area. The Wyoming Department of Transportation, nearby municipalities and mineral rights holders are also notified.
Gertsch said the county commissioners don’t have to make any decisions on the day of their public hearing.
“You can just listen to public comments, but from that date forward you have 45 days to make a decision,” he said.
Since the county has already received the application, Gertsch said the initial review could take place during the April 6 commission meeting. The Planning and Zoning public hearing could be May 12, with the Board of Commissioners public hearing tentatively set for June 1.
The commissioners approved updates to the county’s regulations at the March 2 meeting, though commissioners Pete Gosar and Sue Ibarra both said they would consider additional changes based on public comment from that meeting. Additional changes wouldn’t apply to applications already underway.
Gosar suggested asking the Laramie/Albany County Environmental Advisory Committee to look over the regulations and make suggestions. Previous regulation changes had been suggested by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“Once they bring back wind regulations, we could decide how we would work with them or not,” he said.
The Environmental Advisory Committee is a seven-member board appointed by both the county commissioners and the Laramie City Council, with the goal of analyzing and advising on issues assigned by the two elected bodies.
The committee meets at 6 p.m. the first Thursday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for April 1.
The Rail Tie Project proposes 120 wind turbines on 26,000 acres of public and private land south of Laramie. All of ConnectGen’s application documents have been posted online at www.railtiewind.com.
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