BLACKFOOT — Bingham County Planning and Zoning (P&Z) commissioners denied the special use permit request of the Blue Ribbon Energy LLC to build 27 wind turbines.
Blue Ribbon proposed putting the turbines on 2,500 acres on the hills southeast of Goshen owned by six landowners: Paul Reid, Bryce and Mary Fielding of Hillside Farms, Ken and Becky Davis, Richard and Charlotte Reid, C. Keith and Karma Fielding and Carol Reid.
Commissioners Lee Hammett proposed tabling the application “because this is a new process.”
“Tabling the application would help the applicant get a fair hearing; it would help us [the commissioners] make a decision that is informed,” Hammett said.
“The application needs to be more professional and way more specific,” said Hammett.
Vice chairman Ann Christensen said she did not want a precedence set that would allow applicants to continue adding information to their applications.
Hammett’s motion failed, 5-2.
After about an hour and one-half of discussion, P&Z commissioners denied the request.
The request was denied by a vote of 5-1 with one abstention.
Voting to deny the special use permit were Commissioners Randy Turpin, Kent Banner, Christensen, Brutch Merrill and Gay Sorensen. Larry Kohler voted to approve the application. Hammett abstained.
Blue Ribbon Energy LLC attorney Aaron Jensen said the company has not had time to make a decision about what to do next.
There are three options, Jensen said. (1) The company can appeal Wednesday night’s P&Z decision to the county commissioners. (2) They can reapply and start the process over again or (3) do both.
“I need to digest the 10 pages of notes before we make a decision,” Jensen said.
M.J. Humphries, Managing Member of Blue Ribbon Energy LLC, said the commissioners need to put down the rules and detail what they want.
“We have done everything we have been asked to do and beyond,” said Humphries.
“Bingham County and landowners are the losers,” Jensen said. “In rough figures, the county could gain $15,000 in taxes per year for each turbine.”
Jake Gentle from Idaho Falls said, “The commissioners are afraid they might be accused of doing something illegal so they fear receiving new testimony, whether it be new or added. They are afraid to make informal decisions.”