County will pay for wind farm hearings

File photo / Journal

CLINTON — The county will cover the costs associated with the upcoming second round of hearings in January for the Alta Farms II special use permit, county board vice chairman Camille Redman said during the Nov. 21 board meeting.

Because of a lack of public spaces available in January, hearings conducted by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) likely will take place at The Abigail banquet room.  Tradewind Energy already had reserved several dates in December for the hearings with the understanding the company would pay for the venue.  However, the ZBA scheduled the hearings for January instead.

Redman said, had the finance committee known before it recently completed the new fiscal year budget, money to pay for the private venue could have been included.  Instead, money will be used from elsewhere so the county can cover the cost of the venue for the hearings.  Other costs associated with the hearings also are paid for by the county.

Redman said the board did not want to cut the budgets of any county offices to pay for the hearing venue.

County administrator Dee Rentmeister said the county was not aware at budget time that money would be needed to pay for a venue.

“So, we didn’t earmark money for it,” Rentmeister said.

She said money was budgeted in the same way it had been for the first set of hearings, which didn’t require payment for a venue.  Hearings for the first permit were hosted for free by Clinton High School.

Board member Terry Ferguson, who also sits on the board’s finance committee, said the committee expected the venue situation to be the same as it was for the first hearings.

But, he said when they started asking about public venues for the next hearings, none were available in November or December, and only six days in January.

“And, now as I understand it, those six days in January aren’t available either,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said a source of funding was found to pay for the venue.  He was not specific about what that source was.

“Finance was never approached so we would know to set that money aside,” Redman said.  “We had plenty of time to do that.”

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