Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
At today's Ellis County Commission meeting, a motion to guarantee a moratorium on wind-energy developments within the county failed due to the lack of a second. The motion, which chairman Vernon Berens and commissioner Dennis Pfannenstiel opted not to second, was made by commissioner Perry Henman. Henman suggested a one-year moratorium, or until such time as the county would have a comprehensive zoning plan in place.
As both of you know, Iberdrola cannot resubmit their application for a year, unless you make a special exception for them. There is research to be read and flaws to be corrected, so all of us probably need at least that year. I urge you, therefore, to learn from your mistakes and take the year to do all of the research that we need you to do.
Davis also said it is important for commissioners to solidify the necessary conditions in the county's zoning regulations before entering a contractual agreement. "When you buy a house, you don't sign a contract and say 'let's go back and talk about the roof that leaks,' " he said. "At the point you sign the contract, you lose the ability to negotiate."
In a 2-1 decision, the conditional-use permit application for the proposed wind farm was denied by the Ellis County Commission during today's meeting. Vernon Berens and Dennis Pfannenstiel voted in favor of the conditional-use permit application, while Perry Henman said the county should start the application process over and revisit zoning regulations. "I've been, in the past, for it with conditions. And I've sort of changed my mind on that," Henman said. "I'm pretty much thinking that we need to re-do our zoning rules and regs. They're insufficient."
On Tuesday morning, Vernon Berens, Dennis Pfannenstiel and Perry Henman will make arguably their biggest decision as Ellis County commissioners: wind farm or no wind farm. ...Henman said he's decided not to let the over-arching debate of wind energy as a whole effect his decision. The issue is based on zoning regulations, property rights and local quality of life, he said. "Personally, I'm trying to not let those things influence my decision -- if wind towers are evil or good," Henman said. "To me, they're a machine. It makes electricity, and we just need to decide, through zoning, where we need to put them."
At Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting, it was suggested Iberdrola Project Manager Krista Gordon would appear on next week's agenda to answer questions regarding the proposed wind farm. But there's been a change of plans. Gordon's appearance has been canceled, and there will be no wind farm discussion during Monday's meeting, said Chairman Vernon Berens. The decision was made because commissioners didn't want to reopen the public hearing portion of the application process, Berens said. "Plans changed because too many wanted to come back on the agenda, and we've heard all we wanted to hear," he said. "So we said anything with the wind farm will be nixed for Monday, and we'll make a decision on (Sept. 4)."
It will be November before a final decision is made, but at least two companies have indicated an interest in building a transmission line that would pass near Hays. One of those companies - ITC Great Plains - officially is on record that it would like to build the line, which would run from Spearville to the Knoll substation just northwest of Hays and then to Axtell, Neb., just south of Kearney. While it's significant that the line would come close to Hays, it's also the first line that a relatively new state agency - on its own accord - has proposed building if no private company steps forward.
Talk of the proposed wind farm again breezed into Ellis County Commission chambers Monday morning. The final decision, however, has been postponed until early September. Dennis R. Davidson, county counselor for the application, requested additional time to prepare, county chairman Vernon Berens said. "We'll meet with our attorney this week and set up a date," Berens said. "Tentatively, we've set up a date for Sept. 4. The bottom line is we'll make a decision." Iberdrola drafted a six-page document of conditions the company is prepared to offer, provided the county grants the conditional-use zoning permit.
Commissioners discussed progress toward a final decision regarding the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays at Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting. Keith Pfannenstiel, who resides on Mount Pleasant Road, asked the county commissioners when they expect to vote on the issue. "We don't have a definite date set yet, but I would say maybe the 27th of August or the Tuesday after Labor Day," said Chairman Vernon Berens.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.