Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
As a civil lawsuit seeking to overturn the Ellis County Commission's decision to permit a wind farm southwest of Hays makes its way through the court system, Hays Wind LLC will act as a co-defendant. The company, represented by Hays attorney Mel Sauer and Wichita attorney Jay Fowler, will join Ellis County in defending allegations brought forth by the 41 plaintiffs, represented by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes. "The motion to intervene was granted," said attorney Dennis Davidson, who represents the Ellis County Commission.
Energy was one of several hot issues discussed Saturday, as mayors from across northwest Kansas gathered in Hays for an annual Northwest Kansas Mayors Association summit. ...Bill Dowling, vice president of energy management and supply at Midwest Energy, also discussed the importance of multiple energy sources, and explained how diversity affects the power pool. While wind development is good -- and on the increase -- production from this resource is not always stable, he said.
The Ellis County Commission and Hays Wind LLC have filed their responses to a civil lawsuit filed Aug. 26 regarding a conditional-use permit granted for a wind farm southwest of Hays. The suit was filed on behalf of 44 plaintiffs hoping to reverse the commission's decision to issue a conditional use permit and approve the development plan for the project. The appeal, filed by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes, alleges the conditional-use permit application and development plan submitted by Hays Wind were incomplete.
Three groups of developers are taking a look at Marshall County as a possible site for a wind farm, according to Marysville Mayor Bernie Krug. Krug said the interest was only in the initial exploration phase and developers' names would not be released until they express interest in pursuing a project.
A company from Kansas is exploring building two wind farms, one near Kouts and one near LaCrosse. Within the next month, Trade Wind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., will erect a 197-foot-tall wind monitoring tower. ...Because guide wire towers are not allowed in the county, a zoning variance had to be granted this week.
It was more wind talk Monday evening as the Hays Area Planning Commission continued efforts to develop wind turbine regulations for city-governed land. The board has been working to develop the regulations for several months, and with a couple extra work sessions, hopes to wrap the process up by November. Because the commission oversees regulations in town and within the surrounding 3-mile radius, rules for both hobbyist and commercial towers have been taken into consideration.
At Monday's Hays Area Planning Commission meeting, commissioners were informed that legal descriptions defining the city-governed 3-mile zoning radius of Hays need to be revised. Jesse Rohr, superintendent of planning, inspection and enforcement, said the issue surfaced as city staff began analyzing plans for a wind farm southwest of Hays, which includes plans for turbines in the area. ...Hays Wind Project Manager Krista Gordon previously said there are eight turbines proposed within the 3-mile radius as defined in county zoning regulations.
Monday's Ellis County Commission vote to grant a conditional-use permit application for a wind project southwest of Hays was a step forward for Iberdrola's 200-megawatt project. Individuals on both sides of the issue, however, expect that final resolution of this debate could be issued in district court. "I sincerely appreciate the vote of support this morning," said Krista Gordon, Hays Wind project manager. ...Not everyone, however, is pleased with the commissioners' decision. Tim Davis, co-chairman of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group opposed to the wind farm, said plans to file an appeal in district court have been under way.
In a 2-1 vote, the Ellis County Commission gave its approval to the latest conditional-use permit for a large-scale wind-energy development southwest of Hays. Perry Hanman, whose dissenting vote nixed the project last fall, again voted against the project, with commissioners Vernon Berens and Dennis Pfannenstiel supporting the plan.
For the second time in less than a year, the Ellis County Commission was split in its decision to grant a conditional-use permit for a wind farm southwest of Hays. This time, however, the 2-1 vote in favor of granting the permit was sufficient. Approval of Iberdrola's much-contested 200-megawatt wind farm project, to stretch across approximately 13,000 acres of land, was granted this morning. "The zoning board did vote 5-2 for approval," Commissioner Vernon Berens said. "All I can say is, I think it's an excellent benefit economically and otherwise for the county."
Another appeal has been filed regarding the development plan for a much-contested wind farm southwest of Hays, and this one will come before the Ellis County Commission later this month. The appeal was submitted by Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes on behalf of almost 60 Ellis County residents. "The appeal requires the county commission to weigh in on the questions that were raised to the planning commission," Hughes said, referring to the June 24 meeting of the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission.
With no protest mounted, a proposed wind project southwest of Hays will come before the Ellis County Commission needing a simple majority. Approved by the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission by a 5-2 vote in June, the Hays Wind project received no opposition during a protest period that ended Wednesday, and county commissioners tentatively are set to hear the proposal July 28. ...Iberdrola has yet to sell the energy expected to be produced on the Hays Wind site.
On June 26, two of our county commissioners fired the shot heard round the world. I assure you that within 24 hours every large wind farm conglomerate in the world got the news that the biased, hand-picked zoning committee had accomplished their mission. ...Now, we will all be forced to live with wind farm rules that are so vague and minute, they will do little to protect the citizens of our county. Now that the fox is in the chicken coup, we will see dozens of applications to bring in wind farms. Because these huge conglomerates are worried they may lose the monster tax breaks if Congress votes them out, they will be in a mad rush to get things going in our county. Within five years we may not have one scenic location left in Ellis County. When they have destroyed all the high hills, they will just make the towers a 100 feet higher and continue to march across our county.
For the second time in about a year, the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed Hays Wind project by a majority vote. Following Wednesday's lengthy public hearing, the present commissioners voted 5-2 to recommend county commissioners approve the conditional-use permit application. ... One concern voiced by both commissioners voting against the project was the fact the project's boundaries have been altered, creating gaps in the project area to allow for setbacks from neighbors not involved in the project. By altering these boundaries, the company has reduced the feasibility for a valid protest petition, as provided for in county zoning regulations, Anderson said.
An appeal has been filed with the Ellis County Board of Zoning Appeals, protesting a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday. The public hearing had been slated for the Joint Planning Commission to consider a conditional-use permit application submitted by Iberdrola's Hays Wind for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays. The appeal was filed by members of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, who say the application is incomplete and the case should not be heard until corrections are made. ...How the appeal will affect the wind farm hearing remains unknown. [Zoning Administrator Dale] Wing said he is waiting for response from the county's attorney, Dennis Davidson, regarding the issue.
It was more wind farm-related planning issues Monday evening as the Hays Area Planning Commission continued its process of developing wind power regulations to be applied within city limits. While no action was taken on the issue, commissioners discussed the possibility of having a more unbiased academic source provide a day of education for local government. "It seems like it's going to be a coming thing in the future," Planning Commissioner Terry Claycamp said. "To have some non-biased, knowledgeable source, we could have questions answered." ..."On the commercial side, I've been very frustrated because most of the information we can get ... everything seems so slanted in one direction or the other," Planning Commissioner Jim Fouts said.
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said Tuesday wind production in Kansas can expand to create an export market for notoriously stiff breezes cruising across the state. "We know there is just a certain amount of wind we can integrate into our electrical system in Kansas," Parkinson said. "How do we keep the momentum going? We're probably talking about export." Wind generation capacity is spiking in Kansas through construction of large commercial farms. The state's installed capacity was 365 megawatts at the end of 2007. That total is expected to reach 1,015 megawatts at the end of 2008.
Hamilton County commissioners handed the documents necessary to build a wind farm back to the Syracuse-Hamilton County Planning Commission Tuesday morning after finding some of the formatting of the zoning regulations need to be changed. The commission did not approve the zoning regulations to allow the wind farm, but support of the $300 million project was evident. "We're not ready to approve it except in spirit," said Hamilton County attorney Rob Gale at the meeting. The planning commission will change some of the formating, including adding a section to separate the regulations from the definitions, said John Kennedy, Hamilton County economic developer.
Hays Wind LLC's plans for a wind farm south and southwest of Hays will continue, and sooner than originally anticipated. A year-long moratorium required by Ellis County's zoning regulations regarding a conditional-use zoning permit was waived by county commissioners in a 2-1 vote at this morning's meeting, with Commissioner Perry Henman dissenting. Commissioner Vernon Berens and Chairman Dennis Pfannenstiel both spoke in favor of wind energy development within the county and granting the waiver to speed up the process.
As lawmakers ended the 2008 session Thursday, they rejected a standalone bill extending the tax break beyond 2009. Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area. "We know other states have put up cold hard cash," Kelly said. The name of the company hasn't been disclosed. Without the extension on the tax break, it is likely the company will look elsewhere, she said. ...A month ago, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing expansion of a coal-fired power plant at Holcomb and extending the sunset for the tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka. After Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities."