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Wind dominates planning talks

It was more wind farm-related planning issues Monday evening as the Hays Area Planning Commission continued its process of developing wind power regulations to be applied within city limits.

While no action was taken on the issue, commissioners discussed the possibility of having a more unbiased academic source provide a day of education for local government.

“It seems like it’s going to be a coming thing in the future,” Planning Commissioner Terry Claycamp said. “To have some non-biased, knowledgeable source, we could have questions answered.”

Other commissioners spoke in favor of the suggestion, and Lou Caplan, who acted as chairman since commissioner Larry Gould was absent, said he would look into the matter.

“On the commercial side, I’ve been very frustrated because most of the information we can get … everything seems so slanted in one direction or the other,” Planning Commissioner Jim Fouts said.

Fouts also said the issue of creating regulations is more complicated for the city, which must take into consideration small hobbyist turbines for city use, as well as commercial-sized towers.

Iberdrola has proposed locating eight turbines inside the city-governed 3-mile radius of Hays in conjunction with the proposed Hays Wind project to be located in Ellis County.

An additional two turbines are proposed on Fort Hays State University grounds. But because they would be located on state-owned property, neither the city nor the county would have jurisdiction.

To help alleviate complication, and to ensure the city of Hays will have the ability to expand in the future, the board discussed the possibility of simply banning commercial-sized turbines from the 3-mile radius.

“I’m almost of the thought that because of the development, proximity and size of the towers … thinking maybe we should just ban commercial-size turbines from the 3-mile radius,” Fouts said.

“My thinking on that has nothing to do with whether I’m for or against wind energy. That really, in this particular instance, is immaterial.

“It’s just because of the sheer size of commercial towers,” he said. “That’s really going to tie our hands if the city would develop in the areas of those towers.”

By Kaley Lyon

Hays Daily News

17 June 2008