Accord reached in draft of wind turbine rules

The Columbia County Planning Commission is moving toward adopting new rules for the projects.

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Editor's note: This story was originally published April 29, 2008:

DAYTON — The elements of a draft ordinance setting wind turbine development standards were agreed upon by Columbia County Planning Commissioners during a study session Monday.

Planning staff will write the draft ordinance, which will then be presented discussed in a public hearing, planning director Richard Hendricksen said this morning.

The proposed ordinance includes proposals from two groups that presented suggestions for an ordinance regulating wind turbine placement.

Presently wind turbines are approved through a conditional use permit process and are allowed in A-1, AR2 and A-2 zones. In the proposed ordinance, they will only be allowed in the A-1 zone, which eliminates about 75,000 acres from potential wind farm development.

Most of the A-1 zone is in the north part of Columbia County, Hendricksen said.

Other elements of the proposed ordinance include:

Setbacks from roadways are 1-1/2 times the height of the tower for safety reasons. Setbacks on state highways would be a half-mile. This setback is much smaller than the 2-mile setback proposed by the Friends for Scenic Columbia County.

Noise regulations will be tighter. The developer would be responsible for the cost of a noise study, but the county or a consultant hired by the county would conduct the study.

A quarter-mile buffer is required around the project area. The likelihood that a home would be within a half-mile is very small, Hendrickson said.

The proposed ordinance “gives a little more protection to county residents, and on the other hand doesn’t unduly hinder the wind turbine developers,” Hendrickson said.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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