Brown County commissioners have taken action to protect the county as the topic of wind energy heats up.
Clif Heiniger presented the commissioners with a letter signed by 143 residents concerned about the presence of wind turbines in the county. Heiniger told commissioners that most signatories were rural residents and cited everything from visual, sound and electronic interference to why they didn’t want wind turbines. He also noted that property values would suffer from large wind turbines in the area.
A member of the Brown County Glade Watch – as the group of concerned citizens called themselves – Heiniger told the commission that the group was concerned about the progress of the Pony Express wind project, which consists of 320 turbines that will primarily be located at Nemaha. County, but also encompass an area of Brown County near Fairview.
Heiniger said the group is asking the commissioners to stop the wind power project from crossing county lines.
“You have to take control of this,” Heiniger told the commissioners.
Commissioner Bill Pollock introduced a motion to enact a moratorium to prohibit the construction of commercial wind energy conversion systems including the turbine apparatus and all buildings, roads, interconnecting facilities, metering devices, transmission lines transmission, support structures, and other related improvements necessary to produce wind-powered electrical power until a comprehensive plan is developed to determine how best to protect the county and its residents from the adverse effects of such projects.
Pollock’s motion died for lack of a second, but the commissioners continued to discuss the alternatives they had, seeking advice from County Attorney Kevin Hill.
Hill discussed the protective measures a moratorium could provide, but said they had to allow for a period of time. The plan to put in place a moratorium would essentially prevent any new construction of wind turbines in the county while the commissioners work on a comprehensive zoning plan.
Commissioner Richard Lehmkuhl said that doesn’t mean there will be extensive zoning in the county, or that they will say no to wind power altogether. It simply gives the county time to work with legal counsel to develop zoning regulations that would deal with wind turbines.
After further discussion, Commissioner Lehmkuhl introduced a motion to continue the moratorium process for wind power in Brown County. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Pollock and approved 3-0.
Solid Waste Director George Bruning requested that the landfill continue to be closed on Memorial Day as in the past. The committee sees no problem with that.
Brown County Assessor Steve Markham discussed the summary of assessed and appraised values with the commission.
Director of Community Corrections and Deputy Director Vicki Hubin and Chris Denner discussed fiscal year 2023 funding for staff salaries. Motion by Richard Lehmkuhl to allow Hubin and Denner to allocate funding from April to June. Seconded by William Pollock. Motion carried.
The May 4, 2022 payroll was approved as follows: Motion of William Pollock. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried. General $81,414.78, Road and Bridge 20,333.50, Technology 325.50, Assessor 7,020.00, Noxious Weed 2,265.36, ACC 6,954.34, JJA Core 4,843.15, Reinvestment Grant 1,570.78 , Services for Employee Ben.00 Ben.00, Solid Waste 6,239.98, Employee 1, Employee F. 9,872.69, State Unemployment/Labour Comp -123.47, Insurance -3,592.45 TOTAL $150,278.22 .
The mid-month claims of May 9, 2022 were approved as follows: Motion of Richard Lehmkuhl to approve accounts payable. Seconded by William Pollock. Motion carried.
001 General $21,399.58, 103 Road & Bridge 2,493.58, 125 Employee Benefit 99.90, 135 Capital Improvement 12,457.25, 143 Appraiser 619.15, 147 Weed Nuists 45.06, 155 Diversion 187.49, 160,911 Solid waste
Commissioner Lehmkuhl, requested an executive session of 4 minutes. Motion by Richard Lehmkuhl for a 4-minute executive session on Unelected Staff with the three commissioners, Kevin Hill, County Attorney, and Dawn Boyles, Brown County Clerk, present to discuss Unelected Staff personnel issues with an executive session necessary to protect privacy interests. Seconded by William Pollock. Closed at 8:27 a.m. Opened at 8:31 a.m. No binding measures have been taken.
The commission discussed NEKLS’ request to appoint a Brown County representative. Brown County Clerk Dawn Boyles will contact the local library for advice.
Brown County Clerk Dawn Boyles presented a letter from the finance committee of the silver-haired Kansas Legislature requesting funds. The commission would like to research the committee before committing funds.
Motion by Richard Lehmkuhl to approve the modified wage and salary structure. Seconded by William Pollock. Motion carried.