With an eye on preserving the recreational opportunities at Lake Parsons, the city of Parsons will continue to monitor discussions regarding a planned wind generation project in Neosho County.
At the urging of City Commissioner Tom Shaw, City Attorney Ross Albertini attended the Neosho County Commission meeting last week. A large portion of the meeting was devoted to discussion on the Neosho Ridge wind farm that Apex Energy is planning to develop on the south end of the county, including near Lake Parsons.
Shaw raised concern last week that the wind farm could have a negative effect on Lake Parsons, Labette County roads or property values in the area. He referred to a map that a wind farm opponent gave him showing proposed locations of 173 turbines in a permit filed by Apex. The turbines would be located as close as 4 to 5 miles from Parsons and would be 607 feet tall. Some of the turbines could be located half of a mile to three-quarters of a mile from Lake Parsons, which is in Neosho County but owned and maintained by the city as its water source.
Albertini told city commissioners on Monday that about 30 people attended Friday’s Neosho County Commission meeting, with about all of them being opposed to the wind farm. He also outlined the concerns of property owners.
Albertini said nothing was mentioned during the meeting about possible pollution to the lake, but he found through research that the city doesn’t need to worry about that aspect.
There is some concern, however, about the migratory patterns of ducks being affected by turbines, as well as the number of birds that would be killed by turbines.
Albertini said Jim Zaleski, economic development director of Parsons, planned to get in touch with a person he knows at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to gather more information. The city staff will continue to monitor the progress of the wind farm and plans to send someone to a Thursday evening Neosho County Commission special meeting on the topic. City Manager Debbie Lamb said the Lake Parsons advisory board also would discuss the topic on Tuesday to determine if opposition should be mounted or concerns aired.
Shaw said according to Ducks Unlimited, ducks need 5 kilometers of clearance in order to thrive at a wetland because they need that much foraging space. The map he shared on Thursday shows 18 or 19 turbines within 5 kilometers of Lake Parsons, a duck hunting location, and several within 1 1/2 miles of the lake.
A big draw to Kansas is the hunting and fishing opportunities, Shaw said, so he said the lake board likely would be concerned about the planned wind farm.
He urged the city to oppose wind turbines being built so close to the lake.
“I’d rather be proactive and have them thinking we’re sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong than to get caught,” Shaw said.
If Apex doesn’t plan to contact the city or Labette County about its plans, perhaps the city and county should contract the company, he said.
Shaw said he also emailed Labette County commissioners about his concern about possible damage to county roads as the turbines are shipped into the neighboring county. Neosho County plans to work out a road use agreement with Apex Energy pertaining to road maintenance cost.
“It would sure seem like a wise thing for Labette County to do that as well,” Shaw said.
The Labette County Commission hasn’t addressed the issue during meetings.
Commissioner Jeff Perez said he wants to prudent about how the city approaches the issue because he, too, is concerned about the Southeast Kansas way of life and the effect the wind farm may have on it.
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