Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
Longtime Greensburg resident and community leader Bob Mosier announced late Tuesday afternoon he'd just received word from Tom Fieler of Clipper Wind, Inc. that agreement has been reached between his firm and Westar Energy of Topeka to build a 105 megawatt electricity-generating wind farm on the same site south of Mullinville previously considered by KCP&L for a similar facility in 2005. That contract was eventually awarded to a site surrounding the town of Spearville.
As I drove on, I was less amazed and more distraught that anyone would call what I saw, a farm. My uncle is a farmer and his farm doesn't look anything at all like what I saw. The words wind and farm conjure up a friendly pastoral connotation. An image that is harmonious with nature. What I saw is an industrial wasteland. Row after row of huge machines placed menacingly along the highway. They evoke images of the future and the "Terminator," a science-fiction/horror film. It doesn't look anything at all like a farm. The vista looks like a factory, a huge money-making, profit-sucking corporate machine. There weren't any farm hands working the area. Machine after machine of cold hard steel and there was no one working.
El Paso County commissioners will hear plans today for a major power transmission project that will sweep the southeastern corner of the county. The Eastern Plains Transmission Project aims at constructing 1,000 miles of power lines reaching as tall as 14 stories that could eventually link power on Colorado's eastern plains to southwestern Kansas. It would cut across some of the best wind-energy generation sites in the state, project managers say, and have the capacity for future conversion to such renewable energies.
The conditional-use permit application regarding the proposed Ellis County wind farm cannot be passed except by a unanimous vote of the Ellis County Commission, it was announced this morning. Ellis County Clerk Alberta Klaus presented the results of the formal protest petition, which was filed in opposition of the project June 20. Signatures were collected for 43.19 percent of the proposed wind farm's perimeter. "That's what we've been waiting on. This is the next step in our process with the wind farm," said County Chairman Vernon Berens. "We were waiting on the signatures, that we had the necessary signatures." According to Ellis County zoning regulations, a unanimous vote is required if petitions are endorsed by 20 percent of landowners within a 1,000-foot perimeter of a proposed project. If the signatures had not amounted to the 20 percent requirement, the vote could have passed with a simple two-thirds majority.
At Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting, County Clerk Alberta Klaus is scheduled to present information regarding a protest petition filed in objection to the proposed Ellis County wind farm. While the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission has made its recommendation, the fate of the proposed Ellis County wind farm depends upon the county commission. "It's in our hands, and we will make a decision," said Vernon Berens, chairman of the Ellis County Commission.
Another petition regarding the proposed Ellis County wind farm was presented to the Ellis County clerk Thursday. This one requests a complete moratorium on the project and consists of 760 signatures. The document does not protest wind energy, but requests cautious and balanced deliberation before the county proceeds, states the cover letter, which is endorsed by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition.
The protest petition for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays was discussed during Monday morning's Ellis County Commission meeting. Ellis County Clerk Alberta Klaus said the protest petition was delivered Wednesday. "I don't know that you can act on the wind farm application today because of the protest petition I have in hand," Klaus said.
I feel as if our community has been kept in the dark about the 130-plus wind turbine facility to be located in Ellis County. I am a neurologist in the Hays community, a taxpayer and a voting constituent. After doing a bit of research regarding wind turbines, I believe all of us residing in Ellis County need to be involved in making the decision of whether or not we should permit a wind turbine facility to be located 5 miles from the city of Hays. I am an advocate of wind and solar power. I believe wind power is an excellent manner in which to generate electricity. But, I do not believe it is in the best interest of Ellis County and the city of Hays to have this facility within 5 miles of our community.
A long-standing proposal to build a wind farm in Kiowa County is again on the front burner. The company proposing the wind farm, Iowa-based Clipper Windpower, is hopeful that utility companies that have passed over the proposal in the past will want to fast track the project now in hopes of helping the tornado-ravaged area get back on its feet.
Hays - Jacinta Faber is just the kind of person you would picture advocating wind energy. She and her family buy organic food, recycle and even use low-flow toilets to conserve water. While Faber likes the concept of wind energy, she doesn't particularly like the idea of the almost 400-foot-tall wind turbines looming on a ridge about 2,000 feet from her house southwest of Hays. She fears there could be health repercussions from the constant noise of the low-frequency whooping sound that the spinning turbines make and the strobelike effect from the blades' shadows.
Yesterday morning, Wednesday, June 20th, on the second floor of the Ellis County Court House, history was made: Citizens brought in the first ever protest petition since the county's adoption of zoning regulations and procedures. The protest petition was submitted by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, ECEAC, to Alberta Klaus, County Clerk. The purpose of the protest petition is to allow citizens to express opposition to the land use application submitted by CPV Wind Hays for the construction of a wind project south and west of Prairie Acres.
The Ellis County Clerk's office was a full house late Wednesday morning as about 15 Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition members gathered to submit petitions protesting the proposed Ellis County windfarm development. Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for people who own land within 1,000 feet of the affected area to file a formal protest petition. These petitions object to the recommendation of approval Ellis County Planning and Zoning commissioners made to the county commission June 6 regarding a conditional-use permit application filed by Competitive Power Ventures. "I'm just glad the petitions are in place," said ECEAC member Keith Pfannenstiel.
Regardless of the fact it will be detrimental to the residents of a small neighborhood, affect the landscape for a quarter of a century, won't reduce the usage of fossil fuels much, if any, and the many other reasons the zoning board could have used to make the decision to tell the salesmen no that just wouldn't have been thinking big. You've got to think big. And even if it all fails, oh well, the Ellis County grade-schoolers of today can clean it up in 25 years. Maybe you should ask them.
Wind farm opponents mean business, and they've secured the services of a Wichita attorney and are discussing what action to take after the Ellis County Commission votes either to approve or deny the conditional-use permit requested by Competitive Power Ventures. The Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group organized in opposition to the proposed project, is prepared to support the county commissioners in a vote of denial, said ECEAC co-chairman Tim Davis at a meeting Monday evening. The coalition also is preparing for a lawsuit in the event of commission approval, he said.
It is expected that a protest petition, the first filed since Ellis County adopted countywide zoning in August, will be submitted to the county clerk's office this week. Opponents to the proposed Ellis County wind project have been collecting signatures since March - the deadline for filing the petitions is 5 p.m. Wednesday. "It's the only tool we have," said Pat Bittel, co-secretary of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group formed in opposition to the wind project. "The protest petition is a form of democracy."
The Ellis County Commission should be cognizant by now of the depth and strength of opposition to the wind energy project from those members of the community who would be most affected by it. We continue to educate the community of Hays and collect signatures on our petition for a moratorium, based on the fact that there has been no qualified, independent assessment of either the economic or the environmental impact of this project in its proposed location.
For local, heartfelt stories and more information regarding wind turbine issues refer to elliscoalition.blogspot.com. We all need to be educated about this project. Let's keep wind turbines away from families in our community. What is the purpose of the Ellis County Planning Commission? Be consistent and fair when making wise decisions that promote health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the citizens in Ellis County.
The clock continues to tick for protesters of the proposed Ellis County wind project as no additional time was granted to file a protest petition.
I welcomed zoning to Ellis County. It was supposedly established for the protection, safety and well-being of the citizens of Ellis County. Now I find out differently. The regulations written for the wind project were written in a way to favor commercial interest and not for the citizen's protection, safety or well- being. Now who should be scolded? The final example was when one of the commissioners recalled his eighth grade science teacher's prescient thoughts concerning the role of sun and wind to help meet our energy needs. Too bad he was not also taught about proper setbacks for turbines, sound travel, property devaluation for homes near turbines, and honesty in establishing industry in Ellis County.
After two public hearing meetings and about five hours of public presentations, the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the conditional-use permit and development plan for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays following less than 20 minutes of discussion Wednesday night. The recommendation of approval, which passed 6-1, now will pass to the Ellis County Commission for a final decision.