Purchase photos

Hays Wind LLC gets CUP approval

4/29/2010

By GAYLE WEBER

gweber@dailynews.net

With no public opposition voiced Wednesday night, the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission recommended approval of a conditional-use permit for the installation of 18 wind turbines for Hays Wind LLC.

The turbines have been relocated since Hays Wind's previous CUP application in 2008 as the result of mediation of a lawsuit involving neighboring landowners. In addition to the 85 turbines that were approved through the previous application, the company asked for approval of 18 turbine locations on 1,900 acres southwest of Hays, but only intends to build on 15 of those sites.

"At some time in the future ... after we have done all the necessary engineering for the project, if we still have more than 100 turbines at that time, we could look at removing the turbines that produce the most noise and/or shadow flicker," Hays Wind representative Krista Gordon said.

The commission recommended approval of the CUP application to the county commission on a 7-0 vote with Keith Campbell abstaining and Kendall Krug absent. Campbell questioned the impact on property values and compatibility to surrounding properties among other issues Wednesday.

But commission chairman Bill Poland said there were benefits to the county as a whole to consider.

"I think payments-in-lieu-of-taxes are a thing we need to consider as a benefit to the county whether you're close to that area or live in Schoenchen or Victoria. Those payments-in-lieu-of-taxes are a significant factor," Poland said.

The planning commission also recommended approval of the development plan for the 18 turbines in the Hays Wind project and three additional meteorological towers to collect data in the project.

One change in the application was presented Wednesday in the sitings of the turbines. After a micrositing meeting Tuesday with representatives from parent company Iberdrola Renewables, one turbine location was moved about 2 miles southwest of its original location to a site near 150th Avenue and Golf Course Road. Gordon said the move would not affect county procedure in terms of notification area or required setbacks.

Ellis County residents have 14 days to file a protest. If no protest is filed, approval of the application requires a simple majority vote of the county commission. A successful protest would require a unanimous decision.

In all, the proposed 200-megawatt project encompasses more than 14,000 acres in an area from 150th to 220th Avenue and Old U.S. Highway 40 to Munjor Road.