‘ERIE – Neosho County Commissioners split Thursday evening on the format for a committee to discuss the windfarm moratorium.
The commission voted 2-1 for the committee to have three members from District 1 and two each from District 2 and District 3.
District 3 Commissioner Gail Klaassen and District 2 Commissioner David Orr both favored the arrangement, but District 1 Commissioner Paul Westhoff wanted the other districts to have only one representative.
Klaassen said proposals for representatives from each town or from each township would be viable.
But the decision did not go over well with wind energy opponents in the audience.
“I think we’ve seen this before,” District 1 resident Ed Spielbusch said. “Deja vu.”
Klaassen and Orr previously voted to accept a road use agreement with Apex Clean Energy for the ongoing construction of the Neosho Ridge Wind project. The committee would advise on the moratorium for any further development.
“We’ve talked about it. We don’t seem to be getting anywhere definitely,” Klaassen said.
Earlier in February, Chanute Regional Development Authority Director Matt Godinez discussed creating a comprehensive plan for the county, which Klaassen said seems like a good idea.
Orr noted that Allen County has countywide zoning, but a wind energy project went in because it met the criteria while Neosho County negotiated better conditions. He warned that zoning could backfire. Klaassen said talking about zoning puts up a red flag.
Klaassen pointed out that the 3-1-1 proposal would leave the other two districts out-voted.
“It goes beyond just the wind farm anymore,” she said. “How’s the county going to look?”
Westhoff had an answer for that.
“If these windmills go up, it’s going to look like crap,” he said.
Klaassen has two representatives in mind who reside in Chanute, but own property in the Neosho Ridge Wind footprint. Orr also said he had landowners in mind, a business leader and an educator.
In other business related to wind energy, the commission heard a presentation from representatives of the Galesburg Relief Fund about Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding that the Neosho Ridge project will provide.
Dan Miller, relief fund president, said the fund started in 2007 and is a 501(c)(3) organization, but has outgrown its building. The group has bids for a new building and is seeking $60,000 for construction on land donated across from the school.
Miller said grants provide help for the group’s general fund.
Galesburg mayor Adam Tromsness, one of several residents who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the town will work with the Regional Planning Commission for grants for projects, including emergency equipment and fire trucks.
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