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Zoning board swings the door wide open

Zoning board swings the door wide open

After witnessing the zoning commission June 6 during the “deliberations” of the conditional-use permit for the industrial wind complex, we were saddened to learn that the majority of this zoning board doesn’t believe that zoning is for everyone. With the almost complete lack of discussion about the proposal and its effects on residents living in the area, the focus on this hearing was instead about the zoning board’s belief in property rights, wind energy and bringing money into the county.

One member took the opportunity to punish those who were opposed to zoning last year. He stated, “I’m a property-rights advocate, and that is part of why I voted no for zoning last year.” Another elaborated his yes vote by saying, “It seems like the people next to this project feel like they have a right to the land adjacent to them and I guess that disturbs me.” That would be fine, except these towers also will affect the people on the adjacent property. Evidently, Gene Bittel hasn’t done enough research to know that the flicker, noise and electromagnetic fields will not be contained just to those properties receiving compensation. One member voted in favor of the project because his high school science teacher said wind and solar was the energy of the future. And yet another even seemed confused about his role on the board and stated his opposition to the location of the complex as he voted for it. In Monday’s paper, Krista Gordon of CPV/Iberdrola said, “I sincerely appreciate the vision and common sense of the public servants who have supported this project.” How can these comments ever be considered vision and common sense?

With their decision, the Ellis County Zoning Board has now said that development takes precedence over quality of life and pretty much everything else. Although the stated purpose of our zoning regulations is to “promote the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the citizens of Ellis County,” that apparently only applies when there is no money involved. Your neighbor’s right to make money however they wish on their own property has more value then your right to live comfortably and safely in your own home. Rather than considering the rights of the hundreds of Ellis County citizens who live and own property in this area, the rights of 20 individuals and businesses who own the land, (some who don’t even live in Kansas!) and a foreign energy company who stand to make millions of dollars were considered to have greater value than those who are raising their families in Ellis County. If this project is to be considered for Ellis County, it should be built where it won’t negatively affect people.

Bittel stated, “If we say no to this opportunity, we’re going to say no to every development that comes to this county from now on. We just as well lock the doors so nobody will open them. And you can’t have future growth with that mindset.” This statement and attitude effectively served notice to all residents of Ellis County. The invitation now has been issued to any industry looking for a home: feedlots, meat-processing plants, hog-confinement barns, smelter plants, adult entertainment clubs and automobile salvage yards on every corner.

Sorry, Victoria, we realize some might think it conflicts with the community image and the Cathedral of the Plains, but “The Porn Shack,” the 24-hour adult superstore soon to be proposed for the north side of the interstate, will bring money into the county. Expect a “yes” vote from your current Ellis County Zoning Board if this hypothetical should ever really occur.

Rod and Pat Bittel

1101 Noose Road

Hays Daily News

15 June 2007