The mid-morning meeting, held by the Washington County Commissioners, didn’t stop a crowd from about 120 attending a public hearing on wind and solar towers last Tuesday, August 24.
No questions were allowed and each person who signed up to speak was given three minutes to say what they wanted. They issued the decisions by the Planning and Zoning committee on the rules and regulations for towers. A decision was to be made at the August 31 meeting.
Lawyer Chris Young was in attendance representing Sacred Horizons, a group that has been very involved in the discussion over towers. The group urged that the rules and regulations issued by Planning and Zoning be passed. He spoke mainly on the height of the towers, the setbacks and felt there should be third party consultants.
Wind towers cannot be recycled, so when they are done, they are waste. The group urged that the commissioners meet with their group to discuss the problems or else adopt the new rules and regulations. Sacred Horizons feels there should be more discussion on the matter of towers.
Carrie Colby then spoke about the health effects of towers. She gave the commissioners copies of some material she found on the internet about the health effects of towers. She wanted to know who would help with the medical costs of towers, and felt that pollinators would be in harm by the towers.
Steve Bray with the electric company, Tri-State Administration, spoke next. He said he was not there to discuss the towers, but mainly about the transmission lines and what problems might arise with pre-existing transmission lines. He asked the commissioners to consider and discuss the problems that might arise.
Steve Diamond said he feels towers should not be allowed to be put up. He said the towers are not good for rural ground and farmers and feels that the federal government doesn’t care about rural areas. He went over his three minutes, but another person gave up his time, so Diamond could finish his remarks. Diamond asked about problems with migratory birds and other animals and what the towers might do to them. He also said he would like to see the rules passed.
Kristin Crumley also asked the Planning and Zoning rules and regulations be passed.
Kim Harman talked about how long her family has been farming in Washington County. There are five generations of farmers and ranchers in the family. She said she felt the county commissioners have a chance to go against the towers. She also brought up the subsidies that some wind and tower companies get from the federal government and said that is the taxpayers’ money.
Henry Harman asked the commissioners to pass the new rules and regulations, as did William Harman.
A gentleman then spoke about the rules and regulations and how the price of electricity would go up. He asked about the FAA and what might happen with the airport. The next speaker said the towers benefit the companies, not the landowners. A gentleman asked why the rules have been changed and wanted the commissioners to go back to the rules and regulations issued by the Planning and Zoning or extend the moratorium for one year.
LeRoy Maggard talked about school consolidation and how we need to keep the five school districts in Washington County. He wanted to know how the schools are supposed to get the money they need to operate their schools, and thinks the schools might benefit from the towers, which could bring money into the county.
A farmer who grew up in Limon talked about the wind companies and how they can be too close to existing structures. He wanted to know who would protect him, as he just bought a house in Washington County and he doesn’t want a tower too close to his house.
Lacie Harman spoke mainly about the cattle industry. She has spoken to people from across the nation and other countries who have told her that they wished towers had never come into their area.
Dena Palser talked about her family and how they have been farmers for a long time. She urged support of the commissioners to pass the new rules and regulations for towers. She said, “There is nothing that cannot be solved with communication.”
Riley Strand spoke about the companies issuing contracts that say you can’t talk to your neighbors about this contract or that you have signed a contract. He felt that was wrong and that a company should not have the right to put a gag order on anyone. He feels that residents in Washington County should figure out what they want.
A member of the Planning and Zoning committee talked about the American Clean Power Association and asked what happened to government by the people. She spoke about the wind towers in Logan County and how Logan County is making about $1.23 per acre and felt that no land was worth only $1.23 per acre. She wants the commissioners to step back and look at what’s best for the county.
Jaimee Mollohan asked the commissioners to step back and look at what would be best for the county. “We are counting on you to make the right choice,” Mollohan said.
Tim Mollohan said when he elects commissioners, he expects them to represent him and everyone in the county.
Jordan Willeke thanked the commissioners for holding the meeting and the members of the Planning and Zoning committee. He thinks the rules and regulations should be weighed. He felt the new setbacks are a little restrictive, but are good for the community. He also urged that the commissioners pass the new rules or else talk to residents of the county.
Carol Slusser then spoke about the rights of the private landowner. She felt that a lot of false statements have been made and asked that the new regulations not be passed. “Where is the money going to come from? Are you looking at the landowners to pay more?” she asked.
Rob Slusser said he has talked to his neighbors and said the commissioners have a hard decision. He also felt the setbacks were a little much.
Greg Brophy, state director of the Western Way, said there will be 3,00 to 5,000 megawatts of energy developed and there may not be another shot at developing wind and energy. He asked that Washington County adopt rules and regulations similar to other counties.
Wyatt Harman spoke about damage to the roads from towers going in.
Akron Schools Superintendent Brian Christensen talked about proximity to schools and also about his parents being landowners. Another small tract owner spoke and asked that small tract owners are considered.
Amber Dedus, who works for Xcel Energy, asked for a copy of the new rules and regulations. She asked for the county to consider some minor modifications, per her company. Xcel provides electricity to customers in Colorado and does not believe regulations were against their company, but that transmission facilities by a public provider should not be included in the rules against private facilities.
Anthony Schaffert said the towers will devalue landowners’ property and that will bring less money into the county. He also wanted to know who would maintain the roads and how that cost would affect the county. He said that property owners would have no problem paying another one or two dollars per acre to make up the difference, but it was not feasible for landowners to have towers on their land.
Rodney Palser, another member of the Planning and Zoning board, said they have been working on this issue for the last year and a half. They have spent a lot of time on this and setbacks were one of the biggest considerations. He felt the committee should meet with the commissioners to come up with a plan that would work for everyone.
Jennifer Herron from NextEra said her company does not have any projects for Washington County, but they might in the future. They have been in Colorado since 2007 and have had towers in Logan County since 2008. She said the new setbacks would almost make it impossible for a company to build on. The company doesn’t want the county to miss out on any opportunities.
Sally Strand said she has a petition with 417 signatures, which she will present to the commissioners on August 31. She asked where the plans came from and who wrote them. She said the current setbacks don’t work and she wants the commissioners to consider the people.
Gisele Jefferson then asked how the rules would affect the airport, as it is very important to our county. She also said she is considering the future of the county and how it might be affected.
Mark Bradney said if we do this, it will affect everything, our land, taxes, etc. and urged that the rules be passed.
Hilary Clark, Social License Director for the American Clean Power Association, said they appreciate the county’s interest in this matter. She said there is a considerable amount of misinformation on all aspects about towers, and that they keep up on all reports and new information.
Christina White, project Director for Engle, said the new rules and regulations would not work for wind and energy development for their company and for many other companies.
Schaffert then spoke again on how the whole tower question is not good for the county.
It is safe to say that the Washington County Commissioners have a tough decision ahead of them at their August 31 meeting.
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