Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
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."
The process of developing wind power regulations is underway for the city of Hays. On Monday night, the Hays Area Planning Commission discussed the wind power moratorium, which is in effect until Dec. 31. "I do think (we need) a four- to six-month investment of time and energy to do research and make sure that we have consideration," Chairman Larry Gould said. The subject originally came before the commission after developer Wes Bainter, Hoxie, inquired about installing wind generators for a senior apartment project on East 33rd Street.
Baby, the wind must blow. But whether rules about generating electricity from the the wind will go is the question for the Franklin County Planning Commission. ...The proposed rules deal only with "small wind" and not the large utility-sized wind farms that are sprouting up over western Kansas. Both Walrod and Wilson say that given average wind speeds and patterns in Franklin County, it's not likely that any commercial wind farms would be located in the county, although Walrod said that in the future, some spots of southeastern Franklin County might be considered.
The requested waiver on wind energy development in Ellis County will resurface for further discussion June 2 after county commissioners opted to table action Monday. Commissioners agreed to postpone making a decision until the Joint Planning Commission, which is in the process of reviewing and amending wind farm zoning regulations, has a chance to discuss the request and make a recommendation. "I think we need to allow them to finish that process. Pushing it through is just going to make it more contentious," Commissioner Perry Henman said. "I think we need to get our rules and regulations straight so that every project doesn't become as contentious as this one. I think we're jumping the gun if we push this through."
For months the zoning board, city council, county commissioners, and residents have held meeting discussing the proposed $300 million wind farm in Hays. The project has people on both sides. After being rejected for a conditional-use permit last year, county zoning regulations state Iberdrola, the company behind the Hays wind project, must wait one year before submitting a new application. That year is up in September. ...But the new application will have to wait. County commissioners decided to let the planning commission discuss the year hold on May 28th before deciding if the new application will wait until September.
The Ellis County Commission this morning tabled a request to waive a yearlong waiting period for a second attempt at a wind farm southwest of Hays. Commissioners opted instead to send the waiver - required after the developer's initial proposal was rejected last year - to the county's zoning commission for review and recommendation.
At Monday's meeting, the commission will be asked to waive a year-long moratorium required by county zoning regulations and enforced last September when the conditional-use permit was rejected. ...The application to be discussed Monday is slightly different than the proposal submitted about a year ago. The project area's internal and external boundaries have changed, including additional tracts of land to the south and west of the original project.
Bonner Springs may get a zoning ordinance amendment this summer that addresses an issue increasingly on the public's mind. At its study session before the regular meeting on Tuesday, the Planning Commission gave the go-ahead to Planning Director Don Slone to draw up proposed amendments to the city's zoning ordinance to allow wind turbines in certain areas with restrictions.
In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Hays City Commission enacted a moratorium against wind development in the city. The intent is to give the Hays Area Planning Commission a chance to examine issues relating to wind towers and develop regulations to govern those towers. ..."We just don't have any ordinances to deal with towers," City Attorney John T. Bird said. "If we don't have any regulations, then it's a free for all." Mayor Barbara Wasinger said proceeding with caution is important.
Monday night's Hays Area Planning Commission meeting to discuss a moratorium for wind towers was a stark contrast to county meetings on a similar topic. As opposed to overflowing county crowds, Monday night's meeting at City Hall drew one observer. Planning commissioners discussed options for towers within city limits, as well as what other cities are doing regarding the issue. "There's the wind farm towers, 300- or 400-foot towers, then there are the residential towers that brought this all here," said Jesse Rohr, superintendent of planning, enforcement and inspection. "A lot of what you find is dealing with the bigger towers. So you have to differentiate between the two."
Commissioners discussed the possibility of a moratorium until the end of the year. "The moratorium is to hold anything off and not allow any development for a set period of time so the planning commission could come back with a recommendation for you," City Manager Toby Dougherty said. The eight months would allow the Hays Area Planning Commission time to research what other cities and counties have done in regard to wind power. The issue came up because a developer asked about the possibility of putting a turbine up in the area of 33rd Street, Dougherty said. ...Commissioners discussed a shorter moratorium period but opted to leave the length at eight months.