Neosho County commissioners say, while they’re still gathering information, they hope to make a final decision on a proposed wind farm in the next few weeks.
For several weeks now, Neosho County commissioners have been wrestling with one issue in particular.
“The wind farm proposal is for Apex Clean Energy to install wind turbines in the Galesburg area,” says David Bideau, Neosho County Commission.
If approved, the Neosho Ridge Wind Project would include up to 130 wind turbines, generating enough electricity to power more than 75 thousand homes, according to Apex Clean Energy. Neosho County Commissioner David Bideau says at this point he’s in favor of the project.
“I would not have a problem living within 1,000 feet of a wind turbine, and at this point I’m waiting on additional information from Apex,” says David Bideau.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Paul Westhoff says he’s concerned with the impact the turbines could have on the people living near them.
“November 30th we voted on the 1,000 foot setbacks not being sufficient, and Apex said that wasn’t viable, and they haven’t gotten back with us since,” says Paul Westhoff.
Westhoff says another concern is the impact it could have on property values.
“These people that are living down there, it’s a very populated area, more so than any other wind farm I believe in Kansas,” says Westhoff.
Commissioners say one estimate shows potential property value decreases of anywhere from twenty-five to fifty percent if the wind farm is built. But Bideau believes that will be offset by Apex.
“The Kansas legislature has removed wind turbines from the tax rolls for a period of ten years. Apex is proposing to pay Neosho county an annual payment in lieu of what they would otherwise pay,” says David Bideau.
Both Bideau and Westhoff say while they want to see a final decision made in the next few weeks, they also want to hear from everyone involved, including the residents of Neosho County. They say having that information is critical, because whichever choice they make, Neosho County will have to live with for generations to come.
“My point is to make sure that the property owners have the right to determine what happens to their property, not the government,” says Bideau.
“This is a tough decision, and whatever we make, we’re going to be remembered, that’s for sure, you know, either bad or good,” says Paul Westhoff.