Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Kansas
The Reno County Planning Commission agreed Tuesday to set a Nov. 18 public hearing on proposed changes to both the county’s Comprehensive Plan and its zoning regulations to prohibit commercial wind development in the zoned portions of the county. Also to be taken up at that meeting will be a proposal to create an overlay district for the remaining non-zoned portions of the county that would enable the county to regulate wind in those un-zoned areas in the future.
The Reno County Commission agreed in a surprise move Tuesday to issue a moratorium on the development of commercial wind farms in Reno County through the end of the year and look at banning them in the zoned areas of the county.
Cherokee County Commission members on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution that establishes a one-year moratorium on wind energy development inside of county limits, saying they want additional information on such operations. “I believe we, as a commission, deserve the time and the right to fact-find,” said Commissioner Lorie Johnson, of District 2. The resolution establishes a moratorium and suspends certain types of improvements regarding wind energy on any land within the limits of Cherokee County for one year, officials said.
A special meeting was held Thursday morning between commissioners, residents and representatives from the company — RWE in America. They were also joined by Labette and Neosho county commissioners, who voiced their concerns after having experienced similar turbine projects in their communities. “There were concerns of property values decreasing, the damage to infrastructure, roadways, the unsightly of these wind turbines within the county,” said Cory Moates, Cherokee County Commissioner.
Labette County commissioners on Monday heard another request for a moratorium on wind farm development to allow further study. Commissioners will take up the request next week but two commissioners didn’t appear to support it. So far, several requests for a moratorium on wind development have failed. Commissioners Brian Kinzie and Cole Proehl both have voted no while Commissioner Lonie Addis voted yes on the requests.
As RWE Renewables considers harvesting wind in Labette County, residents who would live in the proposed wind farm footprint are concerned how wind turbines will impact their health and livestock, among other issues.
Last year, NextEra added 120 turbines in neighboring Nemaha County, Kansas, surrounding Centralia and Corning. That neighboring wind farm, which began operations in 2020, was a warning to some residents of Marshall County, who say the looming turbines, blinking red lights, engine humming and whooshing sounds when the blades rotate past the turbine’s tower will diminish their quality of life.
OSWEGO — A resolution laying out proposed points to be included in an agreement with RWE Renewables wind energy company was brought to the table by Labette County Commissioner Cole Proehl on Friday and approved in a 2-1 vote.
Haas said his concern is that if the commission does not handle RWE’s development right with a special use permit or through zoning, the next wind company wanting to develop in the county will expect the same deal. So if setbacks aren’t adequate with RWE’s development, the next company will expect the same. Haas said he’s seen this in the past when studying wind developments in a number of states. Some counties ended up in court with wind companies.
In a surprise move, Reno County Commission Chair Ron Hirst proposed on Tuesday the county impose a moratorium on commercial wind development for zoned areas of Reno County. With no surprise, the suggestion didn’t go anywhere. Instead, the board tabled until next month acting on regulations the commission has been considering for the past several months.
State Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Mike Thompson said Wednesday that he is trying to protect landowners who fear that a proliferation of large turbines in their rural areas will drop property values and harm their quality of life. Thompson, a conservative Shawnee Republican, is pursuing a bill that would impose statewide regulations limiting turbines to one per square mile and keeping them 1.5 miles from any home or public building.
Wind now cranks up more kilowatts than any other power source in the state of Kansas. Yet even as towering turbines and their slow-churning blades come to increasingly define the Kansas landscape, a counter movement seems to take hold.
Anderson County resident Mike Burns ripped pages of his prepared speech in half Monday to speak from the heart about why Kansas had to pass a law regulating placement of wind farms to protect property rights and bring peace of mind to folks in rural areas attractive to developers. Burns joined dozens of people at the Capitol eager to testify on behalf of Senate Bill 279, which would establish state-crafted regulation of wind generation facilities from the turbine to power line. It would replace county commission preferences for or against wind farms with state law defining turbine setbacks from businesses, parks, homes, property lines and much more. The maximum density would be one turbine per square mile, well below the current standard. There would be caps on sound and light emitted by turbines that sometimes reach 500 feet into the sky.
Board delays decision on adoption at least another two weeks
County commissioners approved amendments to chapter 27 of the planning and zoning commission’s 2018 wind farm overlay district at Monday’s meeting.
In March, Stonebridge applied for building permits to start construction. The planning and zoning department denied building permits because zoning administrator Sharon Omstead deemed the applications insufficient. The county implemented a sunset clause in 2018 that terminated previously-approved conditional use permits on if the company did not apply for construction permits by April 1.
Linn County Commissioners on Monday extended a moratorium on the development of wind farms in the county until December 2021, saying the additional time would allow the county time to collect public opinion on wind development via an advisory vote or survey.
Limits on noise and shadow flicker would determine how close a turbine could be to a home — rather than set distances — in a draft of proposed commercial wind energy regulations reviewed by the Reno County Planning Commission last week.
The Reno County Planning Commission agreed after about a 90-minute public hearing on Thursday to amend county zoning regulations on commercial wind developments. A majority of the evening’s two dozen speakers asked the commission to adopt a 21-page draft document submitted by Reno County Citizens for Qualify of Life that included significant additions and modifications to current regulations.
“It’s private owners contracting with a company to put in wind turbines on their property,” Emerson said. The county does not have zoning regulations that govern the area where the project is planned, he said, and therefore it’s role is limited to ensuring the agreements are fair and that the county and its residents are protected.