ADVISORY: Hearing on proposed plan to block wind turbines canceled

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PENDLETON -- A public hearing Thursday on a proposed scenic-protection area that would block commercial wind turbines in the Blue Mountains has been cancelled.

The hearing before the Umatilla County Planning Commission was to take testimony on the Goal 5 scenic area designation. The proposal by the Blue Mountain Alliance would prevent commercial wind turbines from being placed on about 200,000 acres between the Blue Mountains and Highway 11 and the Washington state line and the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Tamra Mabbott, county planning director, said the hearing was canceled after the applicant, Richard Jolly, withdrew the proposal.

In a letter sent to planning commissioners Tuesday, Jolly said that he was withdrawing the application to prevent a decision before changes to the proposal can be made "to clear up issues that need to be addressed."

Jolly, who is one of the founding members of the Blue Mountain Alliance, said as soon as the changes are made the proposal will be resubmitted.

Jolly said that the alliance had asked the Planning Commission for a continuance on the matter in July to allow time to add an amendment which would address other resources involved besides open space and scenic views. But the continuance request was turned down and they were also told that what the alliance wanted to add was more than what could be done with an amendment.

"We felt the county was moving towards a determination on the viewshed only," Jolly said today. "It's more than that, it's all the environmental issues."

The county Planning Commission has held two previous hearings on the Goal 5 scenic area designation, the first on June 25 and the second on July 23. The second hearing drew an estimated 150 people, Mabbott said.

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