ERIE – Neosho County Commissioners and critics of the Neosho Ridge Wind project looked over drafts of a proposed moratorium on future construction during Thursday evening’s meeting.
County Counselor Seth Jones had prepared a draft and two revised versions of a resolution, and opponent Ed Spielbusch also submitted a proposed resolution. Commissioners will incorporate elements from each to bring back to a future meeting.
“One step closer,” Commission Chair Gail Klaassen said.
The resolutions exempt the current Neosho Ridge Wind project to construct wind-powered electrical generators in the southwest portion of the county.
Jones’ proposal includes naming an advisory committee to discuss a comprehensive plan and possible zoning. Both proposals set a one-year moratorium, and Spielbusch’s proposal includes possible extensions if commissioners decide to proceed with regulations or zoning.
Both include provisions for a daily fine, although Spielbusch set $1,000 per day and Jones left the specific amount blank.
Spielbusch said he does not think setbacks allowed for Neosho Ridge are reasonable, and he wants to see a framework for regulation.
“The point is to get something in place,” he said, “halt further wind development.”
Opponent LeRoy Burk said he supports the idea of a committee.
“You’re the dragons to us,” Burk said. “We’d like to get along better.”
Wind farm opponent Debbie Coover said further wind power development is likely to be in the 1st District of the county, so she would like to see more representation from that area. She said the other district would be less affected.
“That’s something we can talk about,” Klaassen said.
Opponent Dustie Elsworth raised concerns about traffic bringing in materials and children living along county roads during construction.
Part of the construction plan calls for using 80th Road, which is a dirt road, near Lyons Road. Elsworth urged using the paved 70th Road, also called Galesburg Road.
Commissioner David Orr said he understood the decision was made to reduce turns.
“I want my kids to be able to enjoy” walking to neighbors, Elsworth said.
He also asked the commission to fund property owners who feel the need to construct privacy fences.
In other business, the commission met with Rodney Warren and Archie Moffet of Foley Equipment in Chanute to discuss a loader at the county’s rock quarry.
The loader is about 12 years old and Warren presented information on rebuilding it before it fails. He said a rebuild would be 50 to 60 percent of the cost of a new loader, which would be about $525,000.
Road and Bridge Director Mike Brown recommended rebuilding the loader. Warren said the machine might also need to be rebuilt again later.
Brown also asked commissioners about getting bids on truck and grader tires. Commissioners discussed whether to put a policy in place about choosing a local bid over a lower bid, which became an issue during previous tire purchases.
The rebuild purchase could be $30,000 to $40,000. Commissioners set the opening for the Sept. 5 meeting.
After the business meeting, the commission went into a budget work session with accountant Rodney Burns and discussed line-item amounts in the general fund for the 2020 budget.
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