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City commission puts brakes on potential towers in Hays  

In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Hays City Commission enacted a moratorium against wind development in the city.

The intent is to give the Hays Area Planning Commission a chance to examine issues relating to wind towers and develop regulations to govern those towers.

“Regardless of this issue or any other development issue, eight months is a long time for a developer to know an answer,” Commissioner Troy Hickman said of the moratorium, which ends Dec. 31. “I’d certainly like to consider shortening the time period up.”

Commissioner Chris Channell expressed the same sentiment, and added he would like the Hays Area Planning Commission to make wind regulations a top priority.

“We just don’t have any ordinances to deal with towers,” City Attorney John T. Bird said. “If we don’t have any regulations, then it’s a free for all.”

Mayor Barbara Wasinger said proceeding with caution is important.

“This is not whether or not wind energy is good or bad or indifferent,” she said. “We’re just trying to make sure we protect the citizens now and later on in what we decide to do with the regulations.

“If we don’t approach this cautiously and be really careful right now, we’ll be sorry later on.”

She added the moratorium could be repealed earlier if wind regulations are established before the end of the year.

City commissioners primarily were concerned with an inquiry about building a wind generator with a new senior center.

Since the city’s jurisdiction extends 3 miles into the county, however, the moratorium affects the Hays Wind project.

“I fully appreciate the desire for a set of regulations that meets the needs of the city of Hays. They need sufficient time,” Hays Wind Project Manager Krista Gordon said. “As a company, we’re committed to giving them whatever we can to help move the process along smoothly and as quickly.”

She said the proposed project has 10 towers in the city’s 3-mile radius. Two of the towers will be on state land for Fort Hays State University, which means they will not be under the city or county’s jurisdiction.

Gordon said on May 5, the Ellis County Commission is going to consider waiving the year-long moratorium required in current county zoning regulations. The county and city have two separate moratoriums regarding wind towers.

“If the county commission waives the moratorium, the permit application is automatically filed,” Gordon said.

The city’s moratorium could affect equipment procurement.

“We are trying to nail down as many of these development issues as soon as possible so we can move forward with late stage project planning, such as turbine allocation,” Gordon said. “For a project we expect to build in 2009, we are allocating turbines and other resources now. There is a considerable lead time for considerable equipment purchase.”

In other action, the commission:

* Presented hidden heroes awards.

* Presented a business resolution for 1904 Clothing.

* Received mayoral appointment recommendations.

By Karen Mikols

Hays Daily News

25 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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