The Reno County Commission agreed Tuesday to have staff research and develop a draft commercial wind development agreement that could be paired with zoning regulations still under consideration by the Reno County Planning Commission.
Commissioner Ron Hirst suggested the move.
“It seems to me like a company spending millions and millions of dollars would like to know early on what the basis of the development contract would be,” he said. “That way … it gets it started on so it covers areas and we’d not have to push so hard and quick to come up with a development contract.”
Preparing a template in advance would give the county more time to develop something that is in the best interest of the county, Hirst said, and not be rushed amid project development.
A development agreement, Hirst noted, covers such things as road use, decommissioning requirements, in lieu of tax payments, and penalties for violating permit conditions.
The planning commission, during its debate over zoning requirements for a conditional-use permit, has sometimes struggled with what should go in such an agreement versus being included as a zoning regulation.
It has also debated whether the code should dictate what’s required in an agreement, or if that should be left to the county commission to decide in negotiations with a developer.
Commission Chairman Ron Sellers suggested having staff look at four or five development agreements on other wind farms in Kansas and bring back a template.
County Administrator Randy Partington said he thought a development agreement had to be specific to the location and other elements of the wind farm. Sellers, however, said the template could include “blank lines to fill in,” but that it should ensure all concerns about development were addressed.
“Take four or five and look at the best parts of all of them,” he said.
“I’m in complete agreement with Mr. Hirst,” Sellers said. “I don’t think planning documents should include this, but everyone in a district that’s going to get wind energy is interested in how their concerns are addressed, whether it’s excessive noise or excessing something else. I think approving it in advance, we’ll have it in concrete terms. It’s a very valid concern of people living in the area.”
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