Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
 

LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

November 10, 2009

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Guests:

Ruben Blanco

 

Jill Bennett, Planning Department

Melissa Chalona

 

 

Michael Jones

 

Staff :

Kimberly Karish

 

Doug Ryan

Jennifer Lee

 

 

Ryan McShane

 

 

Kate Muldoon

 

 

Willem Scott

 

 

Jarrett Tishmack

 

 

 

Amendments or Additions to the Agenda:

Discussion of the proposed Wellington Intergovernmental Agreement was removed from the agenda.

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

Those in attendance introduced themselves.

 

Discussion Items:

1041 Regulations for Solar Power:   Jill Bennett presented a proposal to amend the Larimer County Land Use Code to add solar power plants to the list of regulated uses authorized under state “1041” authority outlined in Colorado Revised Statutes 24-65.1-101.  The County enacted its original 1041 regulations in October of 2008 to regulate electrical power plants of 50 MW or more, utility scale wind power plants, and electric transmission lines of 69 KV or greater.  The current amendments, to be considered by the Larimer County Planning Commission on December 16, would add solar power plans with an area greater than five acres to the list of designated activities that require approval.  If the amendment is adopted following public hearings by the Planning Commission and County Commissioners, designated solar power plants would be evaluated under the general review requirements contained in Section 14.10 of the Land Use Code.  That section lists twelve review criteria that would need to be addressed by a proponent seeking a permit.  The criteria allow the County to make a regulatory decision to approve, approve with conditions, or deny an application to site a solar power plant.  Staff identified a number of land use issues related to large solar power plants.  The most important are considered to be landscape-scale wildlife impacts and impacts related to drainage, erosion control and fugitive dust.  The need to address these potential impacts was the basis for recommending five acres as the threshold size for requiring a 1041 permit.  Larger size projects are more likely to present these issues, and staff believes that the evaluation of impacts and requirements for avoidance or mitigation required under the 1041 regulations are appropriate tools for protecting land use compatibility. 

 

The EAB had a detailed discussion about the proposed code amendments.  Members concurred that the main impacts identified by staff – together with the issue of water supply for thermal solar power plants – probably are the issues that will be most important from an environmental standpoint.  The EAB felt that the five acre threshold was appropriate for the initial listing, and that the review criteria contained in Section 14.10 appear adequate to allow a thorough review of potential impacts.  The members indicated that they wanted to encourage staff to continue to evaluate impacts associated with solar power plants, and that in the future it may be desirable to add additional specific performance standards in similar fashion as those listed for wind power plants in Section 14.11.2.  Jennifer Lee moved, and Michael Jones seconded a motion to authorize the Chair to sign a memo supporting adoption of the amendments at this time, and encouraging continued research and review of the need for performance standards tailored to specific issues that may be identified for solar plants.  The motion passed unanimously. 

 

Strategy Maps for Budget Outcomes:   The EAB continued their review of the draft Strategy Maps that were prepared by a staff committee under the direction of Budget Manager Bob Keister.  The Strategy Maps are meant to be a tool to help make future budget decisions in a way that allocates resources in order to achieve important objectives (called End Result Statements on the maps) that were developed by the County Commissioners.  There are seven strategy maps, each containing one End Results Statement at its center.  The maps contain two outer layers that list “factors” that represent causal pathways for achieving the desired End Results.  Commissioner Rennels asked the EAB to review the draft maps and offer any suggestions they may have to Mr. Keister. 

 

The members had reviewed the seven strategy maps prior to their meeting.  The discussion at the meeting focused on how those maps might be modified in order to increase their usefulness as a tool for making resource allocation decisions.  Following a lengthy discussion that ranged from considering the specific factors listed to overall concepts for using visual tools to guide decision making, the EAB synthesized their ideas into five basic suggestions:  1) consider combining related outer-layer factors in order to simplify the maps and make them more useable and intuitive; 2)  look for opportunities to use the same or similar wording for factors listed on multiple maps in order to make the interrelations among the end statements more evident; 3)  as the strategy maps are further developed, add specific performance measures to the outer-layer factors to allow departments to measure their progress; 4)  illustrate the strong relationships across End Statements by developing a web-based visual display that links the outer-layer factors and allows users to center on selected factors (a ‘hot link’ or spider web display); 5)  add water quality and quantity as a primary factor to the Environment and Preparing For Growth strategy maps.  Concerning recommendation #5 related to water, the EAB acknowledged that the County is not in the water supply business, but emphasized the crucial importance of water for domestic, agricultural and ecological purposes, and the importance of addressing water issues on a regional scale.  The Advisory Board felt that water is an example how the strategy maps can be used to help visualize important factors that the County may not currently be involved with, but that it should be in order to address the End Results Statements. 

 

The members indicated that the first drift Strategy Maps were well thought out, and expressed a willingness to participate with staff on future reviews.  The members asked Doug Ryan to relay their recommendations when he meets with the Resource Allocation Committee and Strategy Mapping Teams on November 18. 

 

Approval of October Minutes:

Minutes from the October 13 meeting were approved as amended.

 

Updates:  

Doug Ryan reported on his recent meeting with the County Commissioners regarding the Environmental Stewardship Awards.  The Commissioners concurred with the EAB recommendations and will be issuing four awards on December 7.  The recipients are Clean Air Lawn Care, Jean Weaver, K-Lynn Cameron and the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers. 

 

The Larimer County Planning Commission will hold their public hearing on the proposed Horse Facility regulations on November 18.  The EAB comments from October will be included in the packet for that hearing. 

 

Michael Jones reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking comments until December 7 on a proposal to modify the areas of critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse in Colorado and Wyoming.  The proposal would increase the habitat designations along several riparian corridors.  Information about the proposal is available at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/preble/.

 

Michael Jones noted that Larimer County is working with the U.S. Forest Service on a proposal by the County to site a radio communications site on Middle Bald Mountain.  Permitting for this project would involve development of an Environmental Assessment by the Forest Service.  The members indicated that they would be interested in discussion this topic at a future meeting in order to explore whether consultation with the County Commissioners on the scoping and environmental assessment process would be beneficial. 

 

EAB Issue Index:

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

 

December Meeting Agenda:

Middle Bald Mountain communications site, Alps tire pile cleanup, uranium mining, Issue Index review

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 9:00 PM

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