Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMETNAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

April 10, 2007

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Guests:

Mike Erickson

 

Karin Madson, Planning Department

David Gilkey

 

 

Jennifer Lee

 

Commissioner:

Dale Lockwood

 

Karen Wagner

Devin Odell

 

 

Heidi Steltzer

 

Staff:

Bill Zawacki

 

Doug Ryan

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

All in attendance introduced themselves. 

 

Discussion Items:

 

Wind Power Development Standards:  Karin Madson facilitated a discussion about ways to address wind towers in the county Land Use Code.  A conceptual framework was presented that divided wind generation facilities into two categories:  accessory use and principle use.   Accessory wind generators are those that support the primary use, typically a residence or farmstead.  Principle use wind generation includes multiple towers designed to supply electricity to the power grid or to multiple properties. These principle use facilities could be owned either privately or by a public utility.  The framework describes those zone districts where wind generators would be allowed, the review process, and the standards that would apply to each type of facility.  In general, the process to obtain approval for an accessory wind generator would be streamlined to require a simple application and shortened review process.  Important criteria would include tower height, setbacks, color and noise.  Since these accessory towers would be installed in proximity to developed residences, it is not anticipated that detailed studies related to wildlife would be required. 

 

Larger utility scale wind generation facilities that would be privately owned would be required to utilize the county’s Special Review process.  That process requires detailed documentation regarding compliance with standards in the land use code.  Important issues that would need to be addressed include noise, impacts to wildlife, roadway access, and visibility.  The special review process requires public hearings before the Planning Commission and County Commissioners.  The criteria for approval would require a finding that the facility would comply with the technical standards in the land use code, and that it would be compatible with existing and potential future nearby uses. 

 

The process for considering an application from a public utility to construct a wind generation facility would be the Location and Extent review.  The County’s review for these public entities is limited in State statutes to an evaluation of the ability to comply with the County Master Plan.  Under this scenario, the standards that apply to private wind farms would be utilized in guidelines in evaluating a public utility proposal.

 

The discussions with the EAB covered the topics of height limitations for accessory and principle use wind generators,  the possibility of having some accessory facilities a use-by-right that would not require a public hearing, the importance of limiting and controlling site disturbance as it relates to invasive plant species, and the issue of noise impacts to both people and wildlife.  The Advisory Board indicated general concurrence with the concept for addressing wind generators, and would be available to review draft code language once at the appropriate time.

 

Environmental Priorities:  Community Visioning Regarding Sustainability and Growth.  Bill Zawacki and Jennifer Lee updated the EAB on the committee’s initial findings, and led a discussion about the next steps.  The other committee members are Vic Meyer and Tom Sneider.  A handout was provided to facilitate the discussion.  The main idea presented is that growth and development is having regional impacts that are both positive and negative.  The committee noted that it is important for the region to work together to foster growth in a way that is sustainable and permits accrual of its positive benefits but, at the same time, minimizes or eliminates undesirable negative consequences.  The committee is suggesting the concept of a regional sustainable growth summit, sponsored by the elected policy-makers in the region.  The summit could take the form of a community visioning process.  Issues that might be considered include regional land use planning, tax and revenue policies, water resources, and air quality.  One concept for the mechanics of setting up a summit would be to form a number of “pre-summit” groups that would be charged with assembling background information on critical issues related to growth and well as examining possible ways in which those issues could be addressed in the region.  Links to several internet web sites were provided to illustrate examples of other communities efforts.  The members in attendance indicated that they felt the direction of the committee is appropriate.  The committee will next examine these issues in more detail.  This will include identifying the appropriate regional context, researching other community processes, consultation with Planning Department staff, and developing suggestions for next steps.  Once this detail is developed,  the Advisory Board can initiate discussions with the County Commissioners on the concept. 

 

BCC Liaison Comments:

Commissioner Wagner introduced the concept of forming a citizen Transportation Advisory Board to advise the County Commissioners about transportation issues.  She would welcome any feedback that the EAB or individual members might have about this concept.

 

Congressman Mark Udall has introduced a bill to authorize a mountain backdrop study in part of Boulder, Gilpin and Jefferson Counties.  Commissioner Wagner spoke with his office to ask if he would be receptive to amending the bill to include a larger geographic area.  He is open to a friendly amendment if the other parties would concur. 

 

May 11 is the deadline for applications for openings on the various County boards and commissions.  EAB members were asked to encourage qualified people they know to apply.

 

Commissioner Wagner acknowledged the EAB’s recent comments on the draft Parks Master Plan, and thanked the board for their thoughtful analyses.

 

Approval of Previous Minutes:

Due to the lack of a quorum, minutes for the February meeting will be considered in May.

 

Updates: 

Dave Gilkey reported on some interesting undergraduate thesis projects that his senior Environmental Health students are preparing.  Beth Christensen is working on a project related to a methane based approach to climate change policy.  John Volckens is working on a proposal to train engineers and atmospheric science  students to be facilitators of interdisciplinary research addressing regional, national and global air pollution issues.  Dr. Gilkey can provide additional information for any interested members.

 

Doug Ryan is a member of the Green Practices Committee, which is looking at internal County government operations.  The Committee is scheduled to meet with the Commissioners in April.  One topic will be to  consider the possibility of joining with the City of Fort Collins Climate Wise program.  The Green Practices Committee met with the Climate Wise staff, and was very impressed with the inventory and evaluation tools that are available to consider the energy and carbon emission impacts of an organization.

 

EAB Issue Index:

Doug Ryan will update the Issue Index related to the topics discussed at the meeting.

 

May Meeting Agenda:

NISP Water Project from the Sierra Club perspective, County NPDES program.

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 8:30 pm. 

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.