Pratt, Kan. – The Pratt County Zoning Board met Monday, Jan. 2 and discussed setback regulations for wind turbines around various categories of properties in the county.
Initially, the group wanted to define the differences between participating (leased property) and non-participating (non-leased property) setbacks for wind turbines.
The suggested setback for wind turbines from houses on leased property was 1,500 feet, one mile for houses on non-leased property, one-half mile from any non-leased property with, or without, a house, and the height of a tower, including blades of the turbine, plus 50 feet from any roadway. It is to be understood if leased property owners want to have wind turbines closer to their homes than the proposed 1,500 feet, they may by signing a waiver to that effect.
A representative from Indeck, when asked about the setbacks, stated they would eliminate the proposed wind farm project around the Pratt Municipal Airport. The one mile setback was considered to be the worst of the proposals and Indeck would not discuss the setbacks in their contracts specifically, but indicated they would not set a wind turbine any closer than 1,000 feet from a housing unit.
As for turbines located close to a roadway, Indeck stated they would like to exclude the proposed setbacks along county unpaved roads and proposed a setback of three times tower height along paved facilities. The reason given for the latter proposal, was, it is thought towers in the future will only be higher than the current 440 feet and may even reach 800 feet, including the blades.
The Indeck representative stated he has been working on wind farm projects for the last 10-years and during that time only four wind turbines had fallen from the effects of being hit by tornadoes.
There was an extensive discussion regarding the eight-mile flight path diameter around the airport facilities. Initially, it was stated that 28 percent of Pratt County is included within that area. Additionally, there are three preservation areas in the county: Texas Lake, Isabel, and Sand Hills.
Bill Moore was present to discuss his private airport in the northwest portion of the county. His airport is included on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maps and is open to airplanes for landing. Moore said he could live with a one-half mile setback on the sided of his airstrip, but would need a two-mile setback at the end of his facilities.
“If you put the d— thing on the end of my runway I’ll have to try hard to miss it,” said Moore. “Windmills are good… I want them… if they are out in the open, you can fly around them.”
“Within reason, I feel you should be able to use your land for what you want to,” said Fred Newby.
Newby asked what could be done about property owners who do not want to participate in a proposed wind farm project. It was during this portion of the discussion that Patrick Hughes, attorney for the Pratt County commissioners stated, that if the developers chose to become a public utility, then they could use Eminent Domain to further their projects.
The meeting ended with Hughes stating he would bring back a draft of the proposed setbacks and requirements, for applying for consideration for a wind farm project at the next meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. January 16th, at Fire Station No. 12.
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