Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
The agenda for Monday's 6:45 p.m. meeting includes a recommendation from the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission that would change the required setback distance from 10-times-the-tip-height to 1,000 feet and eliminate regulations for noise levels.
A packed room gave the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission a resounding round of applause Tuesday night after the commission voted 5-2 to recommend changes to the wind energy zoning regulations to the Ellis County Commission. ...The zoning commission recommended changing the current 10 times the tip height of the wind turbine setback to 1,000 feet and a noise decibel regulation of 50 decibels.
One of Ellis County's most talked about topics during the past few years will be in the spotlight once again on Tuesday night. During the monthly Ellis County Joint Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m., committee members will host a public hearing on changes to the county's wind energy zoning regulations that were proposed by Mark Bannister of Butterfield Wind during the committee's December meeting.
Commissioners agreed Monday that Campbell was not an aggrieved party and therefore his appeal was not valid. "I tend to agree that he is not an aggrieved person," Commission Chairman Perry Henman said. "He doesn't have any property in the project."
Invenergy project manager Will Furgeson said while he continues to pursue a proposed project in northern Ellis County, the increased setbacks adopted Monday have caused concern about creating a viable project in the county. ...Along with increased setbacks, the amended regulations call for a standard for noise in wind projects not to exceed 40 decibels.
While the Crawford County Joint Board of Zoning Appeals had already heard a case for a height variance for a private wind turbine, Zoning Administrator Judy Freeman said that guidelines may have to be augmented. Freeman said that current county zoning regulations do not address the construction of wind turbines, whether on a farm or just a single-use.
Currently, Hays regulations do not allow wind turbines taller than 125 feet within three miles of city limits. The FHSU wind turbines would be built in a large field area used for agricultural studies.
Differing from a suggestion submitted by the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission last month, Commissioner Perry Henman proposed a 10-times-the-tip-height setback from rural dwellings in order to eliminate the need for noise regulations in wind energy conversion systems. "If we do that, I would be satisfied if the county didn't regulate noise," Henman said.
The commission agreed to recommend a setback from wind turbines of 1,000 feet from participating residences and 2,000 feet from non-participating residences near a wind project. The latter differed from a recommendation by county commissioner Glenn Diehl, who had suggested a 1-mile setback. "I understand trying to protect residences," Planning Commission Chairman Bill Poland said. "I think we can come to a compromise.
After months of information gathering, Ellis County commissioners revisited proposed changes to the county's zoning regulations during Monday's meeting. However, they still took no action on the changes. Specifically, commissioners discussed proposed changes to setback requirements and noise standards in the regulations. Commissioner Glenn Diehl said he wants to protect platted, multiple-lot developments in the county the most. He proposed a 1.5-mile setback for wind turbine location from those areas.
A project to put up a wind turbine at Hope Street Academy generated a civics lesson for students there, five of whom asked the city's governing body Tuesday evening to allow small wind energy systems to operate in Topeka for nonresidential purposes. The governing body, which includes the city council and Mayor Bill Bunten, subsequently voted 10-0 to approve an ordinance making that move and a companion measure requiring users of wind energy systems to acquire a conditional-use permit from the governing body.
The topic of wind turbines came to the commissioners after the Leavenworth County Planning Commission decided that the Obergs needed a special use permit in order to install the turbine. Along with the special use permit were proposed amendments in planning regulations that would establish rules for wind turbines.
Two of the primary issues that have held back development of home or community-based turbines, industry experts say, are cost and regulation. Recent legislation has addressed each in part, but barriers remain. ..."We like the thoughts of wind turbines, but are opposed to law," said Bob Hall, manager of Ark Valley Electric Cooperative, saying it's unfair to the majority of its member customers and unreliable as an energy source.
Ellis County Commission Chairman Perry Henman doesn't deny he has been in contact with wind developers in Ellis County. But one county resident believes the activity has been "very prejudicial" and makes it look as though Henman is "asking for a special favor." ...Invenergy Project Manager Will Furgeson said his "abstract" conversation with Henman occurred more than a month ago.
At Thursday's Hays City Commission meeting, commissioners approved an ordinance regulating wind energy development. The ordinance allows turbines with a maximum height of 125 feet within the 3-mile radius. However, this provision could delay Fort Hays State University's plans to develop a 5-megawatt project on state-owned land near the edge of the city-governed 3-mile zoning area.
At Thursday's 5:30 p.m. Hays City Commission work session, commissioners will consider approving an ordinance regulating wind energy development. The drafted zoning regulations have been submitted by the Hays Area Planning Commission, which has been working on the document since last April. A current moratorium on wind energy development was established to give the planning commission time to develop the regulations.
After nearly a year's work, the Hays Area Planning Commission recommended approval of its drafted wind energy regulations in a 6-0 vote Monday evening. The document will proceed to the Hays City Commission for discussion at the March 5 work session. ...The regulations also state that no turbine taller than 125 feet would be allowed within city limits, which includes the 3-mile zone. In residential zoned districts, maximum tower height would be 45 feet.
Two Kansas House of Representative bills being heard in the committee on energy and utilities have sparked opposition by local government officials. House bills 2043 and 2051, dealing with the regulation of wind and solar energy, would allow developers to build renewable energy plants without regard for already-established local zoning regulations.
Ellis County commissioners discussed the possibility of implementing a moratorium on wind development in the county again Monday. Commissioner Glenn Diehl reiterated he would not support a long-term moratorium. "There's no way I'm going to impact any ... future projects," Diehl said. "It would have to be extremely short-term if we decide on one -- less than six months."
More than 50 people, most of them wind proponents, gathered at the Ellis County Commission meeting Monday to hear discussions about a possible moratorium on wind developments in the county. At the Jan. 19 meeting, commissioners indicated they would like to discuss implementing a moratorium on applications for wind projects in Ellis County in order to get their zoning regulations finalized and a comprehensive plan in place. On Monday, Commissioner Vernon Berens backed off his immediate support for a moratorium.