OSWEGO – A Parsons resident shared concerns with Labette County commissioners Monday about wind farm development.
Dave Oas, a retired Kansas Highway Patrol trooper, told commissioners he’s attended commission meetings in Neosho County where Apex Clean Energy is developing the Neosho Ridge Wind project in the southwest part of the county. Commissioners there approved agreements with Apex to allow the development to move forward.
Oas said what happened in Neosho County was a travesty.
“There was no process that was fair to people that had concerns,” Oas told Labette County commissioners.
The result has been mistrust and anger from those who questioned the wind farm proposal.
Oas said he’s heard there was interest in developing a wind farm in Labette County and asked commissioners their thoughts in the hope that the same process would not be repeated here.
In Neosho County, most residents were not aware of the development until lease agreements were in place.
Commissioner Doug Allen told Oas that commissioners have not been approached by wind companies and had not been told of anyone signing leases in Labette County for a wind farm.
“When it happens here, we will do it differently, if it happens,” Commissioner Lonie Addis said.
“We’ll do it very transparently,” Allen said.
Oas said that would be good, because friends were treated like enemies if they spoke in opposition to the wind farm in Neosho County and labeled opponents, enemies of progress and conspiracy theorists.
“It’s really sad what happened,” Oas said.
Allen said the tax benefits that make wind development possible will sunset next year, so developments must move forward quickly unless the tax benefits are extended.
Addis said a wind developer left a business card for him, but he’s not been contacted otherwise.
In other business, the commission:
— Heard that the Oswego City Council adopted a neighborhood revitalization program similar to Parsons’ and Chetopa’s plans that rebate property taxes for five years for residential property improvements and 10 years for commercial and industrial property improvements. Oswego formerly had a more complicated program that created some confusion in the county appraiser’s office when applying the benefits to properties involved. The council will have a public hearing in August after which the plan will be finally adopted.
— Heard that a damaged hackberry tree on the courthouse lawn in Oswego would have to be removed. A tree will be planted in its place.
— Met in closed session with Cristy Mitchell for a mid-year review of the county’s self-funded insurance program.
— Heard an update on Great Plains Industrial Park from Becky Dantic and Tim Peoples. Peoples said the former building 920 has been removed after it was damaged by fire earlier this year.