OSWEGO — Labette County commissioners agreed to meet with the public in two weeks to hear concerns about or support for the proposed development of a wind farm in the western half of the county.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, in the Labette County High School cafeteria.
RWE, a German utility company, 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.
Commissioners spoke briefly Monday about the wind meeting with the public. Commission Chairman Lonie Addis said he will open the meeting. Then County Counselor Brian Johnson will moderate the meeting. Johnson suggested that commissioners not comment on the public’s suggestions.
Previous commissioners and Addis formed a committee to investigate wind farm development and its impact on the county. That committee has completed its reports, most of them a page or less. The committee was to look into road use, setbacks, safety and environmental concerns.
Committee members suggested setbacks from 1.5 times the full height of the turbine to six times the height of the turbine from property lines. Setbacks from roads could be 1.5 times the turbine height. Setbacks from airports should be 5 miles, from schools 1 mile, from state parks and refuges from 3 to 6.2 miles, from a forest preserve 1.5 miles. Public Works Director Sandy Krider shared two pages of details on protecting county roads from damage during construction of the wind farm.
Commissioners enacted a moratorium on wind farm construction that expired in November. Commissioners then extended it for four months, and that moratorium ends March 9.
In other business, the commission:
— Met in closed session with Krider to discuss attorney-client privileged information for 15 minutes. No action followed.
— Heard from Krider that road crews were out most of Sunday and again early Monday to treat roads because of the icy conditions.
— Met with Jim Zaleski, city of Parsons economic development director, and Laura Moore, city community development director, who are managing COVID-19 relief distributions for the county. The county received $3.9 million from the state to distribute for COVID relief. Moore and Zaleski said the county has a little more than $100,000 to distribute. Commissioners agreed that Wesley United Methodist Church could get reimbursed up to $775 for a food program and agreed to give Jaylee Sanders, who is a bookkeeper for the county program and works with Zaleski and Moore, a $2 an hour raise, to $20, retroactive to her hire date and from Monday forward. The county also has $25,000 from the money set aside for an audit.
— Agreed to reappoint Jill Blankenship, Nancy Boegle and Jean McCandless to the Labette Center for Mental Health Services board of directors to serve until April 2024.