Windmill rule ideas get public airing

The Columbia County Planning Commission hears options tonight that could change the face of local projects.

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Editor's note: This story was published April 14, 2008.

DAYTON — A controversy that has been brewing in Columbia County for months draws closer to resolution tonight.

The Columbia County Planning Commission will discuss options for amending the zoning ordinance regarding development requirements or processing for wind tower-related energy production.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Delany Building, 101 S. Second St.

Of the five options under consideration, two are proposed by citizen’s groups. Friends of Scenic Columbia County is a group representing residents with more restrictive ideas for development standards, according to county documents.

The other group is called Citizens for Economic Diversity, representing citizens with less restrictive ideas on development standards.

Option 1 would make no changes in the zoning code, which allows wind turbines in A-1, A-2 and AR-2 zoning districts with a permit.

Option 2 would eliminate wind turbines as a permitted use. Those in place would be allowed to remain.

Option 3 is a collection of standards planning staff has compiled. This option would allow continued development only in the A-1 Agriculture Zone.

This option includes setback requirements aimed at increasing flexibility in locating towers. Adjacent property owners without a tower lease could also receive compensation for allowing the project to encroach on their property.

Option 3 also calls for 1.5-mile setbacks from the Urban Growth Area Boundaries, a setback 1.5 times the height of the tower from the center line of any paved county and state road; and a quarter-mile setback from project boundary lines.

Option 4, presented by Friends of Scenic Columbia County, asked for a 2-mile setback from center lines of U.S. Highway 12, State Route 261 and Tucanon Road. There would be no wind turbines within sight of Dayton or Starbuck.

It also calls for setbacks to be 1.5 miles from homes and 1 mile from property lines, unless the owner agrees.

Under Option 4 there would be a “turbine-free zone” south of U.S. Highway 12 and Patit Road.

Option 5, submitted by Citizens for Economic Diversity, addresses consideration of regulations related to setbacks, construction, water and runoff, erosion, transportation, historic and cultural resources, health and safety and decommissioning.

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