Third wind farm hearing heard by county

The Marion County Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals had its third meeting Monday to consider recommending a conditional use permit to Expedition Natural Renewal Solutions. The first two meetings on June 3-4 provided ENRS officials time to discuss the reasons why a CUP should be granted, and also to provide those opposed the opportunity to state why it shouldn’t be granted.

On the heels of the planning board’s recommendation, a lawsuit for a temporary restraining is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., June 14, in Geary County. The plaintiffs include Randall Eitzen, who has land where the wind turbine project is proposed, along with about 60 other plaintiffs. Those named as defendants in the restraining motion are Expedition Wind, the Marion County Commissioners and the Marion County Clerk.

The lawsuit seeks to stop Expedition Wind and the other named defendants from further approving and constructing the wind turbines. The lawsuit speaks to past actions related to not notifying landowners in and surrounding the lands covered by the CUP in 2016, and again did so in with the current CUP.

Based on the restraining order being sought, the plaintiffs allege that after receiving the CUPs, Expedition Wind, through its predecessor-in-interest, experienced problems with compliance of the Marion County zoning regulations Article 31. The legal motion further alleges that in 2016 both Expedition and the zoning board “engaged in a course of conduct to amend” the regulations which resulted in deleting Article 31 entirely.

Prior to the commissioners approving a resolution on road rights-of-way by ENRS, the plaintiffs requested holding off on the resolution until they had a chance to review it, but after two executive sessions totaling 45 minutes, the commissioners voted 2-1 to pass it. Commissioner Dianne Novak was the dissenting vote.

At that time, Eitzen said the commission would be hearing from their lawyer.

The resolution, according to information by Pat Pelstring, representing ENRS, said he wanted the resolution in order to make an application for a new CUP after the first one wasn’t approved because it was incomplete and needing more information.

“When we submitted what we felt was consistent with the Diamond Vista application (the wind farm project in the northern part of the county), it was reviewed and, asked that given the scrutiny, they would like some additional information. A lot of those aren’t generally submitted until the construction time period,” Pelstring said.

Regarding the motion to seek a temporary restraining order, Eitzen, and fellow plaintiffs, believe the public interest will not be harmed. In direct contrast, the legal document stated, the Kansas Supreme Court has already held the public has an interest in having proper notice be afforded to landowners in accordance with KSA 12-757.

Sharon Omstead, the county’s planning and zoning director, said prior to the zoning boards meeting last week, the CUP recommendation and the legal matter are two separate things.

The attorneys filing for the plaintiffs are Robert G. Harken and Robert R. Titus, both of Overland Park.

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