Campbell County is starting a two-step zoning process because of a proposed new wind farm. The first step is a proposed temporary zoning ordinance and the second is a general comprehensive plan. Any new ordinance will cover more than just a wind farm. A well written ordinance covers broader activities such as house construction, feedlots, roads and the like. A temporary zoning ordinance if passed is short term. And eventually a permanent ordinance and a good comprehensive plan will be necessary. This is the second step.
Historically the leaders of Campbell County felt that adopting ordinances would impede economic development. Yet, a big infrastructure project such as a wind farm deserves at least some county oversight. On August 15th I sent a detailed memo to the commissioners on behalf of landowners. In it I discuss proper zoning as it relates to wind farms. The public can view my memo to the commissioners on my website blog at: Ganje Law Offices.
Campbell County is now naked. The county has no comprehensive plan and has no zoning ordinances. Zoning ordinances, if written fairly, create good rules of the road. Thinking of zoning ordinances as writing a traffic code for the county makes sense. Balanced ordinances can be written to protect people and property, and to keep things moving smoothly. Good ordinances establish county oversight, safety, uniformity and a road map which wind farm operators can read and follow. A reputable wind farm developer will rarely oppose well written rules of the road because it also protects a wind farm operator from problems.
In this matter I represent landowners, however I and the landowners are not the enemy. County landowners in a new zoning law matter are not adversaries, but rather serious, interested parties. While I sent the memo to the county on August 15th and there has been at least one official county meeting since then, unfortunately I did not hear from any county decision-making officials on the matter. I then took it upon myself to introduce myself to the Campbell County State’s Attorney. In the memo to the commissioners I encouraged public participation throughout the process and not just at the last minute. I suggested that the commission, or its committee, seek public input from landowners and residents at the early drafting stage, rather than wait until later ordinance readings. The particular language of an ordinance is always where the rubber meets the road so it is important that the process of writing an ordinance be open to public and property owner input at the start.
--David Ganje attorney