Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
Discussion of the proposed wind farm development surfaced twice throughout the approximately five-hour meeting. Catherine resident John Schmeidler had been on the agenda to address the board May 29 but was not listed on Monday's agenda. In an insert item, Schmeidler discussed concerns about the protest petition relating to the conditional-use permit filed by wind developers for the proposed Ellis County project. "A couple of things have come up," Schmeidler said. "As you know, I met with you on April the second and asked a bunch of questions and hoped to get some answers. Those have not been forthcoming."
The public hearing for a conditional-use zoning permit filed by Competitive Power Ventures in March will resume this week. The Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission will begin deliberation regarding the proposed wind project at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Ellis County Fairgrounds Gold Building.
The protest petition process was a primary concern of commissioners. Henman requested clarification regarding the allotted time frame and protest area. The terminology regarding the allowed time frame differs slightly in the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission Procedural Guide and the adopted Ellis County Zoning Regulations. Davidson said that has caused confusion. Protest petitions must be filed with the Ellis County Clerk within 14 days after the Planning and Zoning Commission makes a decision, which means the hearing is closed, Davidson said. However, if there ever is discrepancy between these two documents, the zoning regulations would take precedence, he said.
Really? Is it clean? Wind power is not clean - it is a very expensive way of producing unreliable, intermittent electricity. It is considered by many a form of environmental vandalism that scars vast tracts of land, destroys scenery and view-sheds, and diminishes property values, all without replacing a single conventional power generation facility. It is a big ‘greenwash' scam being perpetrated on taxpayers by big corporations invested in oil, gas, and other forms of power generation who are not just harvesting our tax dollars, but also betting they will be able to raise the price of our electricity in a year of two. As far as powering 60,000 households, how many households would want to depend on the wind blowing 30 mph before they can cook dinner or turn on their air conditioning?
There have been new developments regarding the proposed Ellis County wind farm, project manager Krista Gordon said Tuesday. For starters, the project's boundaries will be pulled back from areas of "greatest concern," Gordon said. Negotiations still are under way, but several turbines located along Yocemento Avenue and Old U.S. Highway 40 will be relocated. Easement agreements also will be revised to ensure the company cannot locate equipment in the areas closest to housing communities outside project boundaries, Gordon said.
The scene was cozy in Tim and Penny Davis' country living room Thursday evening. A group of 13 wind farm "neighbors" had gathered to discuss research pertaining to the proposed Ellis County wind farm in the form of an informal press briefing. A candid conversation prevailed as residents, who are members of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, sipped iced tea and nibbled on fruit bread. "We need as many people as possible to be informed," said Rod Bittel. "One of the things we've found out is that a lot of people didn't know very much."
There was an air of excitement in Fox Pavilion on Wednesday evening as about 300 people gathered for a free community presentation - "The Truth about Industrial Wind Energy." The presentation, which started at 7 p.m., was produced and presented by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition. "These people are not politicians, they're not promoters of corporate business interests, they're not even experienced public speakers," said coalition member J.P. Michaud. "They're simply citizens ... who feel this is an issue of intense public importance and one deserving of very careful consideration." A variety of concerns and research was presented by 12 residents.
On April 25, The Hays Daily News ran a fairly extensive news story on the proposed development of the industrial wind power generation plant west and southwest of Hays. That article stated that about 80 local families have expressed their opposition so far, but it did not say much about why there is this opposition. Let me try to explain very briefly some of the multiple sources of opposition. But please understand that this is an extremely brief explanation of each. More information is available at a public meeting being held tonight in the Fox Pavilion, starting at 7 p.m. and sponsored by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition. (Full disclosure: I am a member of this group.) I would say that the opposition can be divided into three groups, and these groups often overlap.
Plans for a wind-energy development project a few miles southwest of Hays could bring a blast of change to Ellis County. If the proposed wind farm development is approved, about 135 turbines will be spread over about 11,000 square acres of land. According to information obtained from the Ellis County Appraiser's office, there are about 50 landowners in this area - 20 of whom have entered a memorandum of easement agreement to have wind turbines placed on their property.
Russell attorney Dennis Davidson will replace Bill Jeter as county counselor in matters pertaining to the potential development of a wind farm southwest of Ellis County, it was decided at Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting. Following a 20-minute executive session, commissioners formally accepted Jeter's resignation and appointed Davidson in a 3-0 vote by commissioners. "It would be very difficult to find someone in Hays who didn't have a conflict of interest," said County Chairman Vernon Berens. "We didn't want to question the attorney, so we just went with someone out of Russell who does not have a conflict."
The heated debate concerning a potential wind farm wafted into Ellis County Commission chambers Monday morning, as resident John Schmeidler presented concerns regarding county procedures. "In going through the town hall meeting that we had last week, as well as talking to some of the administrators, it seems to me there are several procedural problems that need to be addressed," Schmeidler said. "Since ultimately this is going to end up on your plate to decide, and perhaps even to the district court to decide, there are some things I'd like to bring to your attention." He said public notices only were distributed to individuals residing within 1,000 feet of the project area. "We're talking about a huge project, probably the biggest project that's ever been proposed in Ellis County," he said. "In my opinion, if this were to go to district court, and we only notified people within 1,000 feet, that is not including all the people who are going to be affected by this project." The district court might find that to be inadequate due process, said Schmeidler, who lives at 2169 Locust Grove, about 4 miles north of Catharine. Schmeidler asked commissioners to extend the notification area to at least a 5-mile radius around the project site southwest of Hays. Another concern he presented was that the county has no official recording of the public hearing.
As plans for an Ellis County wind farm continue to kick up dust, a heated debate has blown over the city of Hays, particularly the southwest part of town. While 20 property owners in the Yocemento Road area have entered lease agreements with Competitive Power Ventures, a Maryland-based power industry development and asset-management company, other locals strongly oppose the idea of neighborhood turbines.
CAMBRIA, Wis. -- With empty storefronts on the main drag and corn stubble stretching for miles in the surrounding hills, this fading farm town seems like a natural stop for the ethanol express. Not to John Mueller, though. The 54-year-old stay-at-home dad has led a dogged battle to prevent a corn mill from building an ethanol plant up the hill from the village school. Concerned about air pollution, the water supply and the mill's environmental track record, Mr. Mueller and his group, Cambrians for Thoughtful Development, have blitzed the village's 800 residents with fliers, packed public meetings and set up a sophisticated Web site. The mill has fought back with its own publicity campaign and local corn farmers have taken to the streets in tractors to show support. Now, as the mill races to build the $70 million plant, the matter is headed to the federal courthouse in Madison, 40 miles southwest.
The Sierra Club and Kansas City Power & Light Co. have signed an unusual accord in which the utility agreed to offset all the greenhouse gas emissions from a new coal-fired plant by adding wind power and taking steps to conserve energy on a large scale. The Kansas City utility, which serves half a million customers in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, also pledged to cooperate with the Sierra Club on legislative and regulatory changes that would reduce the company's overall emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 percent by the year 2020. In return, the Sierra Club will end its campaign against the utility's 850-megawatt coal-fired plant under construction in Missouri.
GREAT BEND - Barton County Commissioners delayed a decision Monday on zoning for non-commercial wind turbines until the state's secretary of Wildlife and Parks could speak to them. No resolution was adopted, according to Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman. Instead, Secretary Mike Hayden was tentatively planning on meeting with the group April 2 to discuss the building of wind turbines near Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.
HAYS - A developer has applied for a conditional-use permit to build a large wind farm in Ellis County, clearing the way for a public hearing on the project later this month. CPV Wind Hays wants to build as many as 129 towers in an area southwest of town, project manager Krista Jo Gordon said. The developer already has nearly 10,000 acres under lease. Gordon said no electricity from the proposed wind farm has been sold yet. The 400-foot-tall towers would be at least 1,000 feet from the nearest household, but officials said landowners who agree to allow turbines on their property would receive a portion of the electricity sales. A hearing is scheduled for March 28 at the Ellis County Courthouse.
The concept of public welfare is broad and inclusive. … The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary. It is within the power of legislature [to have] determined that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well balanced as well as carefully patrolled. … “The County found that placing the complexes of wind farms, of the size and scope necessary to accomplish their intended purpose, would have a dramatic, and adverse, effect upon all of the general welfare issues found in the comprehensive plan. … “The Court finds there is substantial evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusions reached by the County. “[I]n the County’s denial of placing wind farms in the entire county[,] [t]he County didn’t take any existing rights away but only refused to expand the existing rights including wind rights.”
Here is a big bit of good news from Wabaunsee County for those of us who aren’t in favor of wind farm development in the Smokey Hills. A 14 page decision has been rendered in which Judge Ireland rules in favor of Wabaunsee County and dismisses Zimmerman et al’s lawsuit. We can thank Pat Hughes for his excellent law review article which helped clarify the law. Of course they can appeal, which would make this holding become appellate law in Kansas and of even more significance. Its a great day for prohibiting industrial scale turbines in the Flint Hills… …and raises enthusiasm for our common cause in the Smoky Hills area.
You might like to know that CPV (Competitive Power Ventures) plans to file an application for a 200 MW wind project in Ellis County on Monday. The proposed project will be located about five plus miles southwest of Hays. Their plan is to offer it to Westar. According to a local source most of the project area is native grassland on modest ridges, but the company has suggested that it will be on 40 percent native grassland. This site was reportedly developed by the same individual/company that developed the Moyer Ranch project proposal in Geary County. “Ownership” of the Ellis County project has reportedly passed through about three transformations so far.
The largest wind farm in Kansas, it features 170 giant turbines with a generating capacity of 110 megawatts. That's enough electricity to power 33,000 homes. The difficulty, Johnson said, is that potential is rarely reached. Based on figures from 2005, 32 percent of the time the wind farm produced less than 11 megawatts, which would be 10 percent of its rated output. What's more, 66 percent of the time it produced less than 55 megawatts, or 50 percent of its rated output. Surprisingly, 18 percent of the time, the farm produced virtually no energy. That's equivalent to more than one and one-fourth days each week. "You could, therefore, say that only 34 percent of the time was it at greater than 55 megawatts, or one-half of rated capacity," he said. "Overall, on the average, its output is approximately 36 megawatts, or about one-third of its rated capacity."