Northwest Renewable News

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Whitman County commissioners unanimously pass commercial wind-turbine ordinance November 16, 2009

After almost two years of deliberation, Whitman County commissioners unanimously approved a modified wind energy facilities ordinance Monday morning.

Some last-minute changes were brought forward by Commissioner Greg Partch, including a stipulation that a tower must be located four times its height away from any occupied dwelling instead of the proposed setback distance of five times a turbine’s height.

Commissioners also changed the recommended setback distance from property lines and unoccupied buildings to the height of the turbine plus 100 feet.

“I know not everybody’s happy,” Commissioner Michael Largent said, “but that’s the way this process works.”

Partch said the ordinance serves as a base-level document for the construction of turbines. The county’s Board of Adjustment can impose more restrictions on specific turbine projects as needed.

The construction of wind-energy turbines on county properties is somewhat contested. Two lawsuits have been filed against Whitman County, one from Carolyn Kiesz of Thornton and the other from Roger Whitten of Oakesdale. The suits contest County Planner Alan Thomson’s determination that the construction of towers will not be markedly detrimental to the environment.

It’s unclear what effect the new ordinance could have on the lawsuits. –


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