Washington County Commissioners met Tuesday, July 13 for their regular weekly meeting. Bill Dorrenbacher opened the meeting with a reading and a prayer, which was followed by the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
In public comment, Sally Strand spoke about wind and solar towers. She felt there should be more solar towers, although they want neither on their land. Strand also said they want more transparency from the companies – wanting to know how many they want to put up, how tall, where they will go, etc. and why there is a gag order for Logan County. She also said there would have been more people present, but it is harvest time and a bad time for people to come.
“We are an ag first county,” Strand said.
Jaimee Mollohan added that she wanted to know about the moratorium on solar and wind towers and felt communications should be upped.
Riley Strand was in agreement and said he wants no towers on his land.
“I am a fourth-generation family farmer. Dealings with the companies may be good or bad, but I don’t think the towers are good for the county. We need to stay with what’s right for the county,” he said.
County Administrator Misty Peterson said the new W-Y Communications board is asking for people who would like to serve. Serving from our county will be Chrissy Young, Bryant McCall and Allen Hefty and two commissioners. The board approved Commissioners Tony Wells and Kent Vance, Chrissy Young and Bryant McCall to be members of the new board.
Resolution 83-2021 extended the moratorium on wind and solar towers and transmission lines until August 31 and this was approved. The TV translator tower lease agreement changed the name until Diamond Farms General Partnership and the board approved their signing the new lease agreement for the next 10 years.
Many people then talked about wind and solar towers. Trae Miller, Logan County Economic Development, said, “I am an advocate for an ongoing positive impact on the counties. We have gained about $4 million increased revenue into our county. People are coming into our stores and restaurants. This is more important than the tax income, as this supports our businesses.”
Steve Gray and Karl Myers from Tri-State Transmission then spoke. They do not deal with wind towers, but electricity. Tri-State owns two of the transmission lines in Washington County.
“Some of the wind tower companies sell power to us,” Gray said.
Kipp Parker, farmer from Lincoln County, then spoke. He lives near Limon and has wind turbines on his land. They are in the Rush Creek District and there are 300 turbines in that area.
“If you know a farmer who needs some extra cash, this is the way to go. As a businessman, this only makes sense to me,” Parker added.
Jan Kochia, Lincoln County landowner, agreed with Parker. She is also a part of Rush Creek Farms and said being a part of Rush Creek and having wind turbines has been phenomenal.
“It has been a good decision. Agriculture is our cash crop and this has helped that crop,” she said.
Troy McCue, from Lincoln County Economic Development, has had their tax base added to with the wind turbines.
“We have gained about half a million dollars a year in revenue and will add about that same amount. The county treasury is in much better shape and the cities benefit from the added amount to the tax base.”
Christina White from Engie said they are looking to build a wind farm group in Washington County.
“The ordinance has a height limit of 80 feet and turbines now range from 455 feet to over 600 feet. The setbacks also put a limit on towers,” White said.
She discussed shadow flicker and said they optimize layouts. The ordinance says no shadow flicker is allowed.
“We want to thank the commissioners for allowing us to present our proposal. We are looking at a project for about 109 towers,” she finished.
Trisha Pelligrin, a Tetra Tech senior acoustic engineer, spoke about noise requirements on wind tower projects. Jennifer Herron, NextEra developer, talked about setbacks and renewable energy.
“The county has a lot of possibilities. Wind towers add revenue to the county’s dollars and can be a very good addition for counties. Resources are available and there are more opportunities. Setbacks are important and they make it safe for our environment. There could be a lot more developers that would be interested in coming here. This is a great opportunity for Washington County landowners.” Herron said.
Leif Bang of Avangrid Renewables said the setbacks in the ordinance exclude development.
“I would like to see the county consider abatements in the setback ordinance to make it feasible for development in the county,” Bang said.
Jared Necamp and Gareth McDonald of Blue Earth Renewables both asked for the county to think about allowing wind and solar development in the county.
Carol Slusser of Washington County asked for a copy of the proposed regulations for the county. She also said our senators might need to offer their support.
Hilary Clark of American Clean Power Association said they would work with the county on wind and solar towers. Kari Linker, Eastern Plains Regional Director for Senator John Hickenlooper, said the Lincoln County people, when they talked to them, really expressed their support for renewables and said it was good to open this time to hear the feedback the commissioners have all heard.
Greg Brophy, state director of the Western Way, said he is a member of a conservative group that feels development is good.
“If I were a farmer down in Anton or Last Chance, I would feel very mad that the regulations in Washington County would not allow me a chance to put towers on my land. I would not like that right to be taken and there may not be a chance in later years to do any developing,” he said.
Darlene Carpio, representative for Congressman Ken Buck, said that Buck has been introducing six new bills and amendments on the bills is not known until they go over them. All six bills made it through to committee. Bills were about how Amazon, Google and others have monopolized the market. Buck has introduced a Save the American History bill and is reviewing the Step Act which will be detrimental to the American farms. CSU is partnering with the Research Station in Akron. They have hired a scientist who is working in Akron part-time, are trying to hire new staff and are working on trying to get new money for the station. She brought the District Director down for a tour of childcare facilities and lack of it is of major concern. She felt it was highly successful. Buck will be conducting a farm tour in several counties in a few weeks.
Administrator Peterson finished her report. An agreement for services at the fairgrounds was discussed and the board approved the chair sign the agreement. Teresa Traxler and Grant Smith from the Department of Human Services talked to the board about the childcare program with Kit Carson County. They have been asked for help with their childcare program through September and will pay the department $25 per hour for any help they provide. The board approved the contract.
Larry Griese and Hali Taylor from the Assessor’s Office presented information to the commissioners. It included the land valuations, adjusted taxes, personal property and other information necessary for the County Board of Equalization. Resolution 84-2021 on the supplemental budget was approved. This allowed approximately $420,000 to be used for the nursing home and Pioneer Haven.
IT Director Sean Kennedy discussed the ticket system for the fair and this was approved. He wanted the board to approve the county working with Stripe to provide the ticket program with Thunder Tix and the commissioners approved this request. They needed approval for the county to give Stripe the necessary information.
Emergency Manager Bryant McCall said the county has one active case of COVID-19 and no new cases.
David Frisby of Independent Roofing presented the plans to update the old Y-W building facilities to house the Emergency Management office, ambulance offices and other offices related to the medical end of the county. Emergency Management Director Bryant McCall and Ambulance Director Collin Patterson were also present to go over the plans. There were questions about the plans, but those present liked the plans. He also discussed the clinic on August 7 and said the beginners’ class is full and the intermediate class is almost full.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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