County planners voted unanimously Nov. 19 to recommend denying Bluestem Energy Solution’s request for a conditional use permit to build a four-tower wind energy project south of Interstate 80.
After reviewing the application in detail and considering input from an October public hearing which drew strong opposition to the proposal, planners cited a number of reasons for denying the request. The recommendation to county board members will include one specific finding of fact, citing a Wichita State University study which planners say confirmed their concerns that property values for neighboring landowners would be negatively impacted by a wind farm.
“I believe we’re hearing that it would be injurious both for financial and for health reasons,” said Dave Hutsell, a member of the Hamilton County Joint Planning Commission who made the motion to deny.
“There are health implications that really need to be researched more in depth,” said Commissioner John McDonald. “I believe we can only hang our hat on property values.”
Joan Eastman, committee chairman, cited an Adams County Facebook page as a source for a report on the impact a wind farm might have on local property values.
“I think we have enough here that we can vote on it and say no and pass it on,” Eastman said. “That’s what I feel.”
The unanimous vote to deny the conditional use permit will now be passed on to the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. Jeremy Brandt, the county’s planning and zoning administrator, reported that he expects Bluestem’s request to be on the county board agenda soon, perhaps as early as mid-December.
Before planners began discussing the wind farm issue, they heard a plea from Dwayne Juzyk of Aurora, who submitted a petition signed by mostly area residents who oppose the wind energy proposal and existing regulations.
“I’m here tonight to represent 664 Hamilton County residents who strenuously oppose having a commercial wind farm in their back yard,” Juzyk began. “You are being petitioned by over 600 people who would not enjoy a windmill a half mile off their back porch and the signers of this petition who live on the edge of the proposed site are convinced that the loss of enjoyment is inevitable.”
Juzyk urged planners to do everything they can to encourage county commissioners to increase the windmill setback to two miles from the property line and to delay acting on the permit until commissioners have a chance to change the regulations.
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