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Wind farm permits denied
BAKER CITY — Baker County Planning Commissioners on Tuesday denied conditional-use permits for construction of a pair of wind farms near Huntington and Lime.
Commissioners began deliberating about the projects last week. The large number of public comments at that time resulted in a meeting lasting more than four hours. Tuesday’s meeting concluded after about 3-1/2 hours.
The four planning commissioners originally involved with the issue in late June saw it through to the end: Commission Chair Alice Trindle and Commissioners Jim Grove, Suzan Ellis Jones and Randy Joseph.
Commissioner Bill Harvey recused himself to express opposition to the projects.
Robert Guertin, a spokesman for Oregon Wind Farms Inc., the project developer, attended Tuesday’s meeting but he didn’t speak to planners.
The developers can appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the County Board of Commissioners.
Before denying the request for conditional-use permits, planning commissioners cited objections to wind farms made by Harvey and other opponents.
The potential effect of the turbines on the region’s viewshed came up repeatedly.
“What adverse impact is there to the value of surrounding property?” Joseph asked Grove, who brought up the issue.
Joseph operates the county’s only wind farm, which consists of six turbines on BLM land about five miles north of Huntington.
Even though the privately owned sites for the two proposed wind farms are considered less-than-optimal for agriculture, allowing the turbines — 12 at one site, and 12 to 18 at the other — might affect property values if residents are disappointed when they “look out and see” the turbines, Grove said.
“The surrounding area is rangeland,” Joseph said. “I don’t think the cows are going to care that much.”
Grove later pointed out that recreational use could be affected by the turbines aesthetically and physically. It would keep some from using the nearby BLM land.
Grove and other commissioners believe wind farms would affect the local economy as well. The county has “spent a lot of money” promoting the Oregon Trail, Grove said during the lengthy discussion.