OSWEGO – Labette County Commission Chairman Lonie Addis made two motions on Monday seeking to prevent wind farms from being erected in the county. Both times, the motion died for lack of a second from a fellow commissioner.
The county’s moratorium on construction of a wind farm ends Tuesday, but commissioners have heard from RWE, a German utility company, that it would not be ready for construction for more than a year.
RWE is exploring the development of a wind farm that would have 50 to 75 turbines generating between 200 and 250 megawatts of power. The turbines could be 500 feet tall at the tip of the blade. RWE is collecting wind and weather information now, and this data will help determine turbine location, height and the number of turbines needed.
Neither Commissioner Brian Kinzie nor Commissioner Cole Proehl seconded the motion. Both want more time to perform due diligence in studying the matter.
“I’m not going to give a blanket no to a wind farm just like I’m not going to give a blanket yes,” Proehl said.
The commission asked for input from the community and the commission formed the committee to study the matter.
“I’m not going to make this decision rashly,” Proehl said.
He added that even if the moratorium expires, RWE wouldn’t start building Tuesday.
“I want time to do my job. I haven’t done my job yet,” Kinzie said.
Addis said the wind farm development had been an issue since both of them filed for election.
“There wasn’t a second the first time. There’s not a second the second time,” Kinzie said.
Kinzie said the commission has to discuss the issue before making a decision. He also told Addis he needn’t worry about being part of the discussion with RWE about what’s going to happen in Labette County if RWE comes to the county.
Addis said all three commissioners need to discuss that.
“No. You’re not going to be a part of it. You done said you don’t want any part of it,” Kinzie said.
Addis asked Kinzie if he was going to discuss issues behind his and the public’s back.
Kinzie said no.
“I’m going to discuss things with RWE to make sure that the right things are happening to Labette County. I don’t have to have your permission,” Kinzie said.
Addis said he’s done enough investigation into the wind farm issue and noted he didn’t have to go far to see the impact of wind farms because of the Neosho County wind farm.
“Some people are going to get very wealthy off this,” Addis said.
“Is that a bad thing?” Kinzie asked.
Ronald Neidigh was on the agenda to speak to commissioners for five minutes Monday. Neidigh spoke against the wind development at last month’s commission meeting at Edna Grade School.
Addis would not allow Neidigh to speak Monday, a decision he said he made as chairman of the commission. Later Monday, Addis said commissioners may hear from the public again in the future. He didn’t want to have the same discussions that preceded the Neosho County Commission meetings relating to the wind development in that county.
“We’re not going to have a zoo every time we meet,” Addis said.
He said he wasn’t trying to quash the public’s ability to speak.
Neidigh told the Sun that Addis was wrong to censure him. The other commissioners didn’t comment on Addis’ decision, he said. Neidigh said he just wanted to tell commissioners that he’d heard from people on both sides of the issue and many expressed the need for more information and discussion.
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