Douglas County may put hold on wind farm development

Rumors about the possibility of a large-scale wind farm being planned in southern Douglas County are prompting county commissioners to consider a imposing a moratorium until they can draft appropriate development codes.

Commissioners are expected to vote on a home rule resolution imposing a moratorium on large wind energy systems when they meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse. The proposed moratorium would run through April 30, 2014.

Douglas County currently does not have development codes that specifically deal with wind farms, County Administrator Craig Weinaug said. That’s because most analyses of wind patterns in Kansas rate the area as having relatively low potential for commercial wind development.

But in recent days, he said, commissioners and other county officials have fielded phone calls recently from residents asking whether any such development plans have been filed.

“Commissioners and I have heard second-hand that there may be interest in the southern part of the county,” he said. “Property owners have asked us what’s going on, and we don’t know. But it’s possible that there are people who are exploring the possibility of doing something.”

The purpose of the moratorium would be to give county officials enough time to draft codes dealing specifically with wind farms to control their development, should someone file an application.

Also Wednesday, commissioners will meet in closed-door, executive session to discuss building security measures. It is not known whether commissioners will take action afterward, but they are expected to act soon on a security plan so they can apply for a four-year exemption from a new state law that would otherwise require the county to allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons in the courthouse.

Following that, the commission will recess and then reconvene at 6:35 p.m. for a public hearing on a conditional use permit for Natalya Lother, owner of Pinwheel Farm at 1480 N. 1700 Road, to provide seasonal camping as an accessory use on her farm.