Carbondale solar project wins OK
December 4, 2007
CARBONDALE ” A sizable solar-power project will go forward in Carbondale, and Garfield County will look at zoning changes to allow similar projects to develop following action by elected officials Monday.
Garfield County commissioners unanimously approved a 147-kilowatt, grid-tied photovoltaic panel installation to take place on the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) campus.
Commissioners also approved changing the rules for agriculture/residential/rural density zoning in the county to allow for such commercial-scale installations. Previous county zoning had made no provision for such installations.
The installations could occur only with county approval of a special-use permit. The county also plans to look into changing its zoning to allow the installations in several other county zoning districts.
In addition, commissioners might explore language that would cover other alternative-energy installations such as wind and hydroelectric. The idea of expanding the uses was suggested by Brad Hendricks, who lives near CRMS and supports the project planned there.
The Aspen Ski Co. is partnering with CRMS on its project, which will have solar panels covering slightly more than a half-acre.
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“We really hope it’s a little bit of a model of how we might become more sustainable with energy use and less dependent on other energy sources,” CRMS board chairman Michael Kennedy told commissioners.
He said the project fits with the school’s mission and goals.
“We’re happy to have it on our property,” he said.
The CRMS land initially will be leased for 20 years. Whenever the panels are removed, the land will have to be returned to its current state or a condition accommodating any other allowable land use.
County Commissioner Larry McCown suggested that a time might come when things such as commercial-scale solar panels should have to meet requirements applying to other types of energy industries, such as posting bonds for revegetation when the projects are completed.
Otherwise, he said, the county would be creating “special white gloves for this form of alternative energy.”
The new zoning language doesn’t cover personal systems used for single-family homes. County zoning officials consider those uses already to be permissible in all zoning districts, although building regulations may apply.