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Planners to talk about wind turbines

Planners this week will discuss a zoning amendment to restrict or ban commercial wind energy conversion systems in the area surrounding Parsons.

The Parsons Planning Commission will have a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the commission room at the Parsons Municipal Building.

Concerned about the possibility of 600-foot wind turbines encroaching on the city limits, City Commissioner Tom Shaw urged the city staff to have the planners consider restrictions in the 3-mile extraterritorial zone. Labette County has no zoning in its unincorporated areas, but Parsons controls zoning and codes in the area comprised generally of a 3-mile radius surrounding the city.

Shaw’s concerns were brought about by the controversial Neosho Ridge Wind project that will consist of 139 turbines in the southwest portion of Neosho County. He said Apex Clean Energy, developer of Neosho Ridge Wind, or another company already could be working toward land leases in Labette County. Shaw wants to protect property owners from a potential decrease in property values caused by the proximity of the windmills.

The Parsons Planning Commission discussed the issue in an Aug. 20 meeting, when planner Greg Chalker suggested that an outright ban of commercial wind turbines in the area probably wouldn’t meet much opposition. He and Ron Holsteen doubt the area would be viable for commercial wind turbines.

Chalker suggested that the planners meet this week to possibly schedule a public hearing in October to gather input from the public on a wind turbine ban.