At Monday’s Ellis County Commission meeting, it was suggested Iberdrola Project Manager Krista Gordon would appear on next week’s agenda to answer questions regarding the proposed wind farm.
But there’s been a change of plans. Gordon’s appearance has been canceled, and there will be no wind farm discussion during Monday’s meeting, said Chairman Vernon Berens.
The decision was made because commissioners didn’t want to reopen the public hearing portion of the application process, Berens said.
“Plans changed because too many wanted to come back on the agenda, and we’ve heard all we wanted to hear,” he said. “So we said anything with the wind farm will be nixed for Monday, and we’ll make a decision on (Sept. 4).”
When it became known that time would be scheduled for Gordon to speak, several other individuals requested to be placed on the meeting’s agenda. Commissioners were contacted by County Clerk Alberta Klaus and asked how they wanted to proceed.
Commissioner Dennis Pfannenstiel said he agreed with the change of plans because he feels he has heard enough – from both sides of the issue.
“Personally, I didn’t know what else I’d ask (Gordon),” he said. “I think the public hearings are over. We’ve heard it all, as far as I’m concerned.”
Gordon appeared before the board earlier this week to offer conditions of approval drafted by the company. Included in the document was a proposal for turbine setback distance and an offer for a decommissioning agreement.
A follow-up was scheduled in case commissioners had questions after reviewing the document.
While the wind farm will not be discussed next week, commissioners plan to vote on the conditional-use permit application Sept. 4.
“On Sept. 4, someone will make a motion in favor or against,” Pfannenstiel said. “At that time, bygones will be bygones, and we’re going to move forward.”
Pfannenstiel also pointed out that, while Gordon approached the board Monday, commissioners also addressed questions from Keith Pfannenstiel, a project opponent, two weeks in a row.
Commissioner Perry Henman had suggested Monday that commissioners address their questions in open meeting, but said he understood the reason for changing plans.
“To me, I’d be willing to talk, but we have already had all that,” Henman said. “We’ve had the public hearing, and everybody said their thing. I understand that.”
Some residents, however, would prefer another opportunity to address their concerns before the board.
Pat Bittel of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition expressed concern at the amount of time that has elapsed since the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission conducted public hearings last spring.
“I’m not sure if what was said at the public hearings way back in May are even being remembered right now,” Bittel said.
Bittel also questioned why Gordon was allowed to approach the board. When ECEAC members attempted to schedule a time for their attorney to address commissioners, they were told the time for public comment had elapsed, she said.
By Kaley Lyon
24 August 2007
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