Attorney Dennis R. Davidson of Russell, who is acting as Ellis County counselor regarding the proposed Ellis County wind project, appeared before the Ellis County Commission on Monday to answer commissioners’ questions.
“I have been working diligently, getting acquainted with the regulations and reviewing the law,” Davidson said.
Commissioner Perry Henman asked if there had been any procedural problems in the filing of the conditional-use permit. The conditional-use application was filed March 3 by Competitive Power Ventures.
There have not been any problems or illegalities, Davidson said.
“I think that everything has happened according to the process spelled out in your regulations,” he said. “We should have a good hearing on Wednesday night and give everybody an opportunity to offer their input to the planning commission.”
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.
“To the extent that there is any conflict between the procedural guideline … and the actual regulations, certainly the actual regulations would control,” Davidson said. “I think the procedural guideline is just an attempt to interpret the regulation, but it doesn’t have the weight and authority of the actual regulation.”
Henman then asked what the protest area is.
The protest petition area and the notification area are the same – all landowners who own real estate within 1,000 feet of the application area, Davidson said.
It recently was announced the project’s boundaries had been drawn back from sensitive areas, which caused concern regarding this issue.
However, this 1,000-foot radius is based on the original project boundaries specified in the conditional-use permit application and will not change, he said.
“Regardless of what you’ve seen and heard, and I’ve seen and heard those things as well, and I understand your question,” Davidson said. “But I verify this morning that the application has not changed.”
Another concern had been a lack of exact legal descriptions in the permit application. However, another document that accompanies the application and is on file with the zoning administrator includes the exact legal descriptions, Davidson said.
It is these legal descriptions that control the protest area, he said.
“And there can be no change,” Davidson said. “Even though I acknowledge that there was discussion about making the change.”
Wednesday’s public hearing also was discussed. Davidson said he expects a large number of people to address the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission.
“It’s anticipated, because of the great interest in this issue, there will be many, many presentations, which may last well into the night,” he said.
Davidson also said he doesn’t expect the hearing to close until the commission has heard from “everybody who wants to be heard from.”
“It could very well be that after a long process, if it’s late in the night, it would be in everyone’s best interest for them to deliberate when they’re a little fresher and a little more rested – rather than to try to deliberate through the wee hours of the night,” Davidson said.
The hearing will not be closed until a decision is made.
Chairman Vernon Berens asked about the length of time each speaker would have.
“Would it be a possibility to have an individual speak three minutes instead of five?” Berens asked. “Five minutes is an awful long period of time when you have that number that wants to speak.”
This decision is up to the planning and zoning commission, Davidson said.
By Kaley Lyon
Hays Daily News
21 May 2007
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