Farmers seek power line rules in P& Z draft

ABERDEEN — Landowner rights and possible transmission lines crossing farmland are subjects that need to be included in Bingham County's Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Proposed Code Revisions according to five Aberdeen farmers who met with P&Z Acting Zoning Administrator Allen Jensen on Wednesday.
Private property rights and right-of-way for transmission lines are, as yet, not included in the P&Z Proposed Code Revisions Final Draft.
Jensen, five Aberdeen farmers—Wally Driscoll, Brock Driscoll, Bruce Foster, Kim Wahlen and Monty Funk—provided input. So did Riverside resident Lona Murdock and Wade Povey, who is a member of Power County's task force on transmission lines. The informal meeting took place at the corner of Bingham and Power counties.
"We are fighting to wake farmers up," said Wally Driscoll. "We need to be protected from power lines."
"Power lines and crops don't mix," said Driscoll's son, Brock.
The existing federal lines run parallel to Driscoll Road along 3300 West. The transmission lines stand 110 feet tall on treated wood poles.
"These aren't so bad because they are at the edge of the field," Driscoll said, "but [the pole] placement creates more work."
Linear irrigation lines need to be shortened to get around the transmission lines, he said.
"The obstruction [of the power line] devalues the property," he said.
"The high wires of the transmission lines are dangerous for crop duster planes," said Wally Driscoll.
"In 1979, my son was 12-years-old when he saw a crop duster plane snag the top wire of the pilot line," Driscoll said. "The pilot's neck was broken."
Three pilots have died because of transmission lines, he said.
"If crop dusters are carrying wet, they need to fly about the height of the power lines," said Povey. "If they're carrying dry, they need to fly under the power lines."
Farmers were concerned about the possibility of NorthWestern Energy MSTI project that originates in Montana. In May 2011, the MSTI project was tabled.
In the original proposal, transmission lines would start in Townsend, Mont., to head south through Idaho into Las Vegas and California.
The proposed route of the MSTI transmission line could impact southwestern Bingham County.
Poles for the proposed transmission line would be made of metal and stand 150 feet. The proposed line would need to be a minimum of 180 feet from existing power lines.
"Those power lines need to be with cockroaches in the desert," said Wahlen.
Jensen said he would look into including provisions for property rights and transmission lines in the P&Z code draft.