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Hays Wind LLC joins lawsuit -9/25/2008, 10:47 AM

County files response to wind lawsuit -9/12/2008, 10:06 AM

Wind opponents file lawsuit -8/26/2008, 9:31 AM

Wind could blow into court -7/28/2008, 8:51 AM

Commissioners approve development plan -7/28/2008, 8:51 AM

Vote: Let 'er blow -7/28/2008, 4:03 PM

Commission says 'yes' -6/25/2008, 7:26 AM

Commissioners waive moratorium -6/2/2008, 11:43 AM

Wind farm company requests waiver -4/16/2008, 12:01 PM

Meridian Way Wind Farm to border U.S. Highway 81 -4/11/2008, 5:21 AM

Wind developer eyes two new locations -2/18/2008, 3:22 AM

Protest draws out wind talk -12/29/2007, 2:06 AM

Denial of permit sparks wind debate -11/23/2007, 2:06 AM

Supporters: No coal, lines means doom -11/12/2007, 2:06 AM

Iberdrola plans more towers -11/7/2007, 11:41 PM

Missouri wind farm is windfall for rural community -10/30/2007, 11:27 PM

Kansas has wind potential, if it is willing to act on it -10/23/2007, 11:26 PM

Wind talk becomes heated -10/2/2007, 11:26 PM

Wind farm company considers paying neighbors -9/13/2007, 11:26 PM

Reaction mixed on wind decision -9/6/2007, 11:26 PM

Hammond: Wind will blow -9/5/2007, 11:16 PM

Gone with the wind -9/4/2007, 11:16 PM

Wind farm decision towering -8/31/2007, 10:41 AM

Wind farm decision Sept. 4 -8/28/2007, 2:48 PM

CPV rep won't be at meeting -8/23/2007, 11:51 AM

Wind decision later this month ... maybe -8/15/2007, 4:18 PM

Springview wind turbines to be retired -7/17/2007, 10:35 AM

Commissioners: Wind farm's fate will wait -7/16/2007, 3:01 PM

Legislature studies effects of wind farms on health -7/15/2007, 4:05 PM

Protest petitions to be discussed -7/15/2007, 4:06 PM

Landowners may get offer from wind company -7/13/2007, 3:01 PM

Vandals deface wind signs -7/2/2007, 3:01 PM

Another wind farm petition reaches county clerk's desk -6/28/2007, 3:06 PM

Protest petition being verified -6/25/2007, 3:06 PM

Advocate of wind says make effort -6/21/2007, 3:06 PM

Supporters file own petition for wind farm -6/20/2007, 3:01 PM

Opponents file protest petition -6/20/2007, 3:01 PM

Opponents gain legal assistance -6/18/2007, 3:06 PM

Officials expect petition -6/18/2007, 3:06 PM

Commission addresses wind protest petition -6/11/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind farm gets nod -6/6/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind farm concerns brought before commission -6/5/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind farm decision looming -6/4/2007, 3:01 PM

-6/3/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind talk brings many voices -5/23/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind power bills just hot air, environmentalists say -5/23/2007, 3:01 PM

Attorney discusses wind farm with commissioners -5/21/2007, 3:01 PM

Wind meeting resumes Wednesday at Ellis County Fairgrounds -5/21/2007, 3:01 PM

Wind farm, zoning cause concerns -5/18/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind farm zoning timeline -5/17/2007, 3:01 PM

Concerns fly about birds -5/15/2007, 3:06 PM

Where the wind blows -5/10/2007, 3:06 PM

CPV says turbines will be pulled back -5/8/2007, 3:01 PM

How other counties in Kansas are benefiting from wind farms -5/8/2007, 3:01 PM

Wind farm gets economical endorsement -5/8/2007, 3:01 PM

Neighbors voice opposition to wind farm -5/3/2007, 3:06 PM

Wind farms can generate more power, but may be deadly to bats and birds -5/3/2007, 4:03 PM

Opponents air wind concerns -5/2/2007, 3:06 PM

Location selection due to wind surveys -4/30/2007, 3:06 PM

Tests to determine wind farm's effect on power grid -4/28/2007, 4:13 PM

Wind farm talk gaining more speed -4/24/2007, 4:12 PM

New counsel for wind farm issues -4/17/2007, 4:14 PM

CPV Wind sold to new company -4/11/2007, 4:14 PM

Jeter resigns from wind farm counsel -4/9/2007, 4:21 PM

Commissioners hear wind farm feedback -4/2/2007, 4:16 PM

Weather forces wind meeting's end -3/28/2007, 4:22 PM

Wind farm debate blows into Hays -3/28/2007, 4:10 PM

Commission to discuss wind farm -3/26/2007, 4:22 PM

Developers ready to file for permit -2/28/2007, 4:23 PM

Wind farm application filed -1/6/2007, 4:20 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
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Commission says 'yes'

Published on -6/25/2008, 7:26 AM

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By KALEY LYON

klyon@dailynews.net

For the second time in about a year, the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed Hays Wind project by a majority vote.

Following Wednesday's lengthy public hearing, the present commissioners voted 5-2 to recommend county commissioners approve the conditional-use permit application.

"There's a lot of points that have been made," Chairman Gene Bittel said. "Our counsel feels like we have the right to proceed. Our zoning administrator feels like the paperwork's been done properly."

The 200-megawatt project, headed by Iberdrola, would be located south and southwest of Hays and stretch across about 13,000 acres of land.

With the planning commission's approval, the application now will come before the county commission, which will make the final decision.

Commissioners Barbara Anderson and Bill Poland opposed the project, with commissioner Charlie Rohr absent.

Vice chairman Lance Russell recused himself from discussion and action pertaining to the project to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest.

One concern voiced by both commissioners voting against the project was the fact the project's boundaries have been altered, creating gaps in the project area to allow for setbacks from neighbors not involved in the project.

By altering these boundaries, the company has reduced the feasibility for a valid protest petition, as provided for in county zoning regulations, Anderson said.

"By moving the boundaries back like this, it eliminates all of the protest," she said. "I don't think it's a fair tactic. I think it was a calculated thing they did, and they did it for one reason -- to stop the protest."

"I don't know that it was calculated and done for that reason, but it certainly gives the appearance of that," Poland said.

Because the project boundaries specified in the application have been drawn back, there are two "islands" of land that are slated for turbine placement but are not connected to the bulk of the affected area.

The issue was discussed in depth during the evening's public comment session as Wichita attorney Patrick Hughes, representing project opponents, discussed his legal concerns.

Hughes said the proposed project requires land not included in the application, and the record does not show that all landowners have consented to be represented by the company.

Hughes also said that not all landowners received prior written notice of the meeting, as required by statute.

"We're talking about whether notice was provided to everyone who's legally entitled to go to this hearing," he said. "That's important, because without that notice, there's no jurisdiction. So the hearing today, we may all be coming back again to repeat the process."

Project manager Krista Gordon attempted to refute those claims and others made by the almost 20 individuals who voiced opinions regarding the project.

Gordon said some of Hughes' comments would be addressed through "legal channels" at a later date, but said the company did obtain authorization from the landowners for representation.

"The concept that we haven't provided landowner authorization is false, as per the easement agreements themselves," she said.

"They not only authorize us to file easement agreements on their behalf, but instruct us to do so."

Hughes wasn't the only one questioning legal practice. Before the public hearing began, Anderson questioned the legality of continuing with the night's hearing, following an appeal filed for the local Board of Zoning Appeals.

"We're not the Board of Zoning Appeals now, it's never been stated that we were, and we're a planning committee," she said. "There's already been an appeal that was supposed to come before the Board of Zoning Appeals, and I think we're leaving ourselves wide open for a lawsuit if we continue with this."

Bittel, however, said legal advice suggested it was proper for the board to continue as planned with the hearing.

"I, as chair, sought counsel, I set the agenda," he said. "I was advised that this issue had no merit, and we should continue."

Poland also spoke against approving the project, citing concern that, as it is, it does not comply with the purpose of county zoning, which is to promote the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of citizens, he said.

"And I think that's problematic with the application," he said. "There are some islands, or holes ... in the project area that are not conducive to all of the citizens in Ellis County.

"I think there are some problems with the setbacks as it's shown ... and that simply opens it up for some of the objections to the project," Poland said. "I think we're hurting property owners in the area."

"That could be said both ways," Commissioner Dick Klaus said. "I've got a feeling the only way this is going to be settled is in court."

"I'm a landowner, not in Ellis County, and I would love to have a wind farm on my property. ... There's only one house within a mile of that property," Poland said. "But there are a lot of homes in this area. If there's one family that is seriously, adversely, affected by that, I think it can be cleaned up."

While the application's completion was questioned, Bittel said the application was much-improved from what was submitted last year.

"They've gone beyond what was done last year," he said. "Way beyond. And we approved that project last year overwhelmingly."

The company originally filed for a permit more than a year ago, with the planning commission recommending approval last June. The issue then came before county commissioners in September but did not pass.

Earlier this month, county commissioners voted to waive a year-long moratorium required by local law after the project application was denied, allowing the issue to return to the table.

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