Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
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.
At Monday's meeting of the Hays Area Planning Commission, the board voted 5-3 to ban all wind energy towers more than 125 feet tall within Hays city limits. This restriction pertains to land in the city-governed 3-mile radius surrounding town, in which construction of commercial turbines about 400 feet tall already have been proposed in conjunction with the proposed Ellis County project.
The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition has requested Ellis County withdraw the conditional-use permit it granted to Hays Wind LLC last year for a wind project southwest of Hays. ECEAC also requested Monday that Ellis County commissioners implement a moratorium on other applications until a comprehensive plan is developed. "Our concern with approving the conditional-use application without a comprehensive plan really increased due to the fact that there are four other industrial wind projects in consideration for Ellis County," said Jeff Wick, who spoke on behalf of the group.
Earlier this year, approval of the 200-megawatt project was granted by local governing bodies, only to be tied up in district court. Following the county commission's 2-1 vote of approval in July, with commissioner Perry Henman dissenting, opponents of the project filed suit in district court in late August. Thus, the final verdict of whether or not the project will be constructed remains to be determined.
At Monday's meeting, the Hays Area Planning Commission continued its work to draft an ordinance regulating wind energy development within city limits. As discussion continued, the issue of whether to require special-use permits for every project or to include accessory use provisions seemed to spur some disagreement. Commission representatives solicited input from Hays City Commissioners at last week's meeting, at which time an ordinance extending a moratorium on wind development was approved.
At Thursday's Hays City Commission work session, commissioners discussed the possibility of extending a moratorium on wind development until April 1. The Hays Area Planning Commission has been working to develop guidelines regulating wind-energy development for about six months and has requested a time extension.
The commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution adopting an amendment to the county code that will lay out rules and regulations for wind farms that would produce energy for sale. The county code already allows for private wind facilities.
The Saline County Commission on Tuesday cleared the way for commercial wind farms to operate within the county. ...The commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution adopting an amendment to the county code that will lay out rules and regulations for wind farms that would produce energy for sale. The county code already allows for private wind facilities.
In a unanimous vote Monday, the Hays Area Planning Commission approved a recommendation to indefinitely extend a moratorium on wind energy development within city limits. This recommendation will be presented to Hays city commissioners at a later date for final approval. Jesse Rohr, planning and development superintendent, suggested the recommendation for a moratorium extension of several months.
The Ford County Commission authorized a company Monday to move forward with plans for a wind farm in the county's southeast corner. The commission voted 3-0 to approve a conditional use permit and development plan for Western Trail Wind Project I, following a recommendation by the Ford County Zoning Board. The company has already acquired the land for the wind farm, which will be located south of Bucklin and move west toward Kingsdown as it expands. ...Project details are still vague.