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.
“It will take a unanimous vote on our part, instead of a majority, because of the protest’s sufficient numbers,” Berens said.
Commissioners did not take final action today. A building on the Ellis County Fairgrounds likely will be reserved for a future commission meeting, during which time a vote will be taken, Berens said.
A date for this meeting likely will be discussed and announced within the next few weeks, he said.
Commissioners, however, unanimously agreed the issue will not be taken to a popular vote, expressing concern at the estimated $20,000 cost of a special election.
Commissioner Dennis R. Pfannenstiel said he once had been in favor of putting the issue to a popular vote, but has changed his mind.
“I think the constituents of Ellis County have elected us,” Pfannenstiel said. “It’s our job, and we’re going to make the decision one way or another.”
Dennis Davidson, county counselor for the wind farm application, reminded commissioners that an executive session is an option because the task at hand is considered to be a quasi-judicial function of law.
“I know that this commission is not in favor of doing anything closed when it can be opened,” Davidson said. “I know that you intend to make sure that all of the community and Ellis County understands what decision you ultimately make and how you came to it.”
Davidson, however, requested 20 minutes of executive session to discuss legal process, which the commissioners agreed to in a 3-0 vote.
By Kaley Lyon
16 July 2007
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