OSWEGO – Labette County Commission Chairman Doug Allen wants commissioners to create setback restrictions in case a wind developer wants to build wind turbines in the county.
Wind farms are being built or in the process in Allen and Neosho counties and commissioners previously heard that developers have been talking to Labette County landowners.
The setbacks would set the distance between wind turbines and non-participating property owners. Commissioners have discussed having setbacks start at the property line rather than any house foundation but commissioners only spoke in broad strokes on Monday.
Commissioner Fred Vail said the owner of the quarter section next to his property is an absentee landowner, which wind developers seem to target, according to information shared with commissioners. If that landowner had a turbine placed on his property Vail said he would not be happy.
Allen said he does not want to tell a landowner he cannot place a wind turbine on the property. He just wants to be able to say how close that turbine can be to non-participating landowners.
“That’s why I think we need to seriously consider establishing setbacks to protect people like that. Because otherwise we have no control,” Allen said.
Vail said a quarter of a mile, 1,320 feet, does not seen far enough. Setbacks in Neosho County, where Apex Clean Energy is developing a wind farm in the southwest part of the county, has similar setbacks.
Allen said that should be a half of a mile from non-participating property owners, which would make them 2,640 feet.
Commissioner Lonie Addis said in his childhood he didn’t recall seeing a bald eagle in the county. Now eagles are more visible and wind developments could impact their future. He said he’s been anti-zoning in the past but if that’s the only way to control wind development he may rethink that position.
Allen said the only way that could be done is if the zoning was for a limited purpose.
“I think we need to seriously consider doing that,” Allen said.
The zoning would be minimal as possible. He said he has reservations about wind development, from decommissioning the turbines to impact on wildlife. But he does not want the commission to interfere in economic growth. He just wants to be able to regulate it so the development would not impact a non-participating landowner.
“I think we need to do it pretty quickly. Because we don’t want to be caught like Neosho County was, a dollar short and a day late,” Allen said.
“We need to have input into it and not just have the wind company control the entire process for everybody involved,” he said.
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