Article

Commission extends moratorium

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.

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.

"Not that it will take that long to complete this -- it may or may not," he said. "That way, the moratorium is in place."

A moratorium approved last spring effectively halted wind-energy development but is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

Commissioners opted to recommend an indefinite time addition, with the understanding they are working to wrap up the process as quickly as possible.

After months of work to draft a zoning document guiding wind-energy development in the city of Hays, however, planning commissioners decided more time is needed.

The decision follows a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, during which the board received input for further consideration of zoning regulations.

Concerns regarding a wind-farm project approved by the Ellis County Commission for a location southwest of Hays blew into city hall.

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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.

"Not that it will take that long to complete this -- it may or may not," he said. "That way, the moratorium is in place."

A moratorium approved last spring effectively halted wind-energy development but is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

Commissioners opted to recommend an indefinite time addition, with the understanding they are working to wrap up the process as quickly as possible.

After months of work to draft a zoning document guiding wind-energy development in the city of Hays, however, planning commissioners decided more time is needed.

The decision follows a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, during which the board received input for further consideration of zoning regulations.

Concerns regarding a wind-farm project approved by the Ellis County Commission for a location southwest of Hays blew into city hall.

Many residents urged the commission to make special consideration regarding commercial-scale turbines near town.

The document in question will govern small hobbyist wind turbines within city limits, but the city also has jurisdiction of a 3-mile radius surrounding Hays.

"The big ones, that's a whole different game. And trying to combine this stuff into one ordinance for the little toy car to the semi truck, it doesn't work," said resident Tom Denning, who lives in the 3-mile zone. "I think you're going to have to divide this out a little bit because different rules should be in effect for the different sized project."

Already, several turbines for the approved Hays Wind project, which is tied up in district court, are planned within the 3-mile area.

"I think you guys really have a good start for the ones in Hays, but please think long and hard before putting them in the 3-mile area," said resident Luanne Kramer.

Other concerns expressed included possible constraints of future urban growth, regulations for possible nuisances -- such as shadow flicker and noise emission -- and setback distances.

The current draft of proposed regulations calls for a setback distance of at least 1.1 times the total height of any proposed turbine. The setback distance would be measured from the center of the tower's base to the nearest property line.

Hays Wind Project Manager Krista Gordon submitted concerns of her own and commended the commission on its efforts to draft a working document.

"I commend the Hays Area Planning Commission for proposing a set of regulations that both promotes clean, sustainable wind energy and takes into account the needs of residents," she said. "In general, in my opinion, the proposed regulations strike a fair balance between the two."

In other business:

* Following a public hearing, the commission recommended approval of a requested zoning change at the intersection of Feedlot Road and 230th Ave.

The property would be zoned heavy industrial instead of agriculture, if approved by the city commission. The land, owned by Daniel and Lisa Hess, would be used for a fabrication business as part of Hays-based Hess Services.


Source: http://www.hdnews.net/Story...

NOV 18 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17957-commission-extends-moratorium
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