A large turnout is expected at the Ellis County Fairgrounds Schenk Building on Wednesday night.
That’s when the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing regarding an application for the proposed wind farm southwest of Hays will resume at 7 p.m.
The hearing, which will consider a conditional-use permit filed March 3 by Competitive Power Ventures, is a continuation of the March 28 public hearing, which was cut short due to severe weather in the area.
The purpose for the hearing is to give the public a chance to be heard, said Barb Anderson, vice chairwoman of the zoning commission.
“The public hearing is to hear the public,” Anderson said. “We’re going to let anyone speak that wants to speak.”
Anderson will be acting as chair for the public hearing. Chairman Lance Russell has recused himself from this particular application to avoid a perceived conflict of interest.
Public comments will pick up where they left off at the March event. Attorney Anthony Gabel’s comments were cut off by the excitement, Anderson said.
“The tornado excitement was going on when he was trying to speak,” she said. “We will start with Tony Gabel if he is there and go down the list from there.”
Those who attended the March 28 public hearing were required to sign up if they wished to address the commission. This list of names still will be used, but people who are not on the list and wish to voice an opinion will have the opportunity, Anderson said.
“We felt it was proper to go ahead and let people sign up again,” she said. “There may be more interest now than there was before.”
Public comments will be limited to five minutes, she said.
A decision, however, will not necessarily be made this week, Anderson said.
“At this time, I have no idea when we’ll make a decision,” she said. “We need adequate time to review the information that’s been turned in and that’s going to come in that night. We will not state when that will be. At this time, we’re still hearing the public.”
Russell attorney Dennis R. Davidson, who is serving as Ellis County counselor regarding the wind development application, said the commission, however, is not legally obligated to hear all comments.
If the same information is repeated by various speakers, the commission would have the discretion to request new information or to say they have heard enough, Davidson said.
However, he doesn’t believe that will be likely Wednesday evening, he said.
“My guess is that they’ll allow everyone to speak,” Davidson said.
Because Wednesday’s hearing is a continuation of a previously announced event, and the hearing never was closed, it was not necessary to repeat the 20-day notification process of sending written notice to landowners within 1,000 feet of the application area, Davidson said.
Anderson said she expects a large turnout and encouraged civility.
“I’m looking for a good turnout, and I hope that everyone stays courteous of their neighbor and everybody has a fair chance to speak,” she said.
By Kaley Lyon
Hays Daily News
21 May 2007
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