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County to get over $3M in federal funds  

A German utility company, 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. The proposed footprint of the wind development is between 8000 and 19000 roads and Douglas and Meade roads.

Credit:  By Ray Nolting | Parsons Sun | www.parsonssun.com ~~

OSWEGO – Labette County may get as much as $3.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act passed early in President Biden’s administration, but the county will have limits on how that money can be spent.

Though the money is for infrastructure, no bridges can be built. Road improvements are a question mark. Expanding broadband would be an acceptable use, Labette County Counselor Brian Johnson said Monday while updating county commissioners on the COVID-19 relief funding. Commissioners agreed recently to seek a study of broadband coverage in the county.

Cities and schools will get their own ARPA funding, Johnson said.

Johnson told commissioners he’s studying material related to the act and will attend webinars offering more information. There have even been questions about using the money for water improvements. But he said if the improvements are related to public health they would likely be allowed. There have been constitutional questions raised in some places on spending restrictions, he said.

Commissioner Lonie Addis asked if the money could be used to implement zoning for wind turbines. Johnson said “absolutely” because of the public safety and health issues tied to wind development.

“If you want to stop windmills, you can’t just pass a resolution to stop windmills,” Johnson said.

The first step would be to create a comprehensive plan, an “in-depth and intricate” planning document that many cities create periodically. The process of creating such a document can take up to a year. A zoning board would need to be set up to hear zoning requests. The zoning board would be appointed by commissioners and elected after that. Based on the comprehensive plan, the zoning board could vote against wind development in the zoned area. At that point, the county commission would have three options, adopt the recommendation, send it back to the zoning board for reconsideration or vote no on the recommendation, Johnson said.

“Because that comprehensive plan for zoning is good for more than just wind farms. We’re talking population density. We’re talking about the needs for schools. It will give you information to be able to do anything in regards to zoning anywhere in the unincorporated areas. And to be clear, it won’t affect cities. Not at all. It will affect the three-mile zoning around Parsons if zoning is adopted. Now it doesn’t mean that you can’t reach an interlocal agreement with Parsons and say we’re going to keep your three-mile zone,” Johnson said.

Addis said rather than the county, he was wondering if third class cities in the county could set up zoning using ARPA money. He listed Mound Valley, Edna, Bartlett and Altamont. Three of those communities are near or within the footprint of a proposed wind development.

A German utility company, 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. The proposed footprint of the wind development is between 8000 and 19000 roads and Douglas and Meade roads.

Johnson told Addis that those communities could set up zoning, similar to what Parsons has done with its 3-mile zone.

“However, everyone from the Kansas League of Municipalities and the folks who are giving those speeches right now on the proper use of those funds are saying don’t rush into anything,” Johnson said.

He said he’s still waiting for the U.S. Treasury to say what is allowed and what is not. For cities thinking about this, Johnson suggested they send a question to Treasury to get a yes or no.

Johnson said cities could also join forces to perhaps get a cheaper rate on developing comprehensive plans.

Addis said he just wanted to put that information out there to address “the elephant in the room.”

Right now, the only zoning in the county outside of the 3-mile zone around Parsons is at the Great Plains Industrial Park, where a board oversees zoning requests, Addis said. Big Hill Lake is federally zoned to limit houses encroaching upon the lake, he said.

A number of citizens who have previously spoken about the wind development attended Monday’s meeting, but the development did not come up in the meeting other than what Addis addressed. Public comment was not allowed after the commission completed its agenda.

[rest of article available at source]

Source:  By Ray Nolting | Parsons Sun | www.parsonssun.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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