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Wind projects advance in Ellis Co.

Ellis County Planning and Zoning commissioners gave the green light for a meteorological tower on Hyacinth Avenue following a public hearing Wednesday evening.

The conditional-use permit from Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC was approved 7-0, allowing a 60-meter temporary meteorological tower on the east side of Hyacinth Avenue between Buckeye and Severin roads.

“We think it’s probably a good location for the proposed use,” said planning and zoning chairman Kendall Krug prior to taking a vote on the permit.

According to Invenergy representative Allyson Sand, it is hoped a crew will begin work on the tower in about a week. The purpose of the meteorological tower, which will remain in place until a wind development project is launched, will be to give the company accurate wind data.

“Depending on if we could get a project started, (the tower) would be there until the project began,” she said. “It could be there anywhere from a year to 3 to 4 years.”

Permission to grant Buckeye Wind Energy LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Invenergy, the right to file the conditional-use permit application was signed by trustee of Stackhouse Trust, George R. Joy.

Invenergy has long-term lease agreements in place with Ellis County landowners for wind development in northern Ellis County. A meteorological tower is located approximately 6 miles from the proposed tower on property owned by Marcy McClelland.

No questions or comments were raised during the public hearing by any of the 20 audience members. The protest period for the conditional-use permit will end Nov. 7.

In other wind-related business, Dale Wing, Ellis County environmental, planning and zoning manager, updated commissioners on a wind development project in the works for Fort Hays State University.

Wing said a project coordinator for the FHSU development will be in Hays during the upcoming week, working to secure equipment bids and move forward with the project.

“He’s going to meet with Mike (Graf) to do a road maintenance agreement and hopefully by the time he leaves here next week, he’ll have all the paperwork put together so we will be ready to start on that project,” Wing said.

Ellis County Commissioner Dean Haselhorst and Commission Chairman Swede Holmgren, sitting in the audience during the planning and zoning commission meeting, were asked if they had concerns regarding FHSU’s project. They said they had none.

“All we were waiting on was their route and how they would bring equipment in as far as which road they are going to use,” Haselhorst said. “That’s what we were waiting on … other than that, we approved it 3-0.”

Ellis County Planning and Zoning commissioners in June approved a conditional-use permit for FHSU for two wind turbines. The turbines are proposed to be located approximately 3.5 miles south of FHSU and provide for more than 90 percent of the university’s electrical needs.