Adding a wind farm to Marion County still concerns landowners

Local

MARION COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A fight against a wind farm in Marion County continues after some residents said they were not notified of changes to the zoning or updates on the project.

Amy Stutzman built her log cabin in 2016 just feet away from where a potential wind turbine could be installed. At the time of building, she was unaware of zoning changes. Stutzman said a Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) overlay map was changed to include the entire county.

“Had those maps of been updated when I walked in the planning and zoning office in 2016 for my building permit, I would’ve seen on those maps the WECS overlay,” said Stutzman. “I would’ve walked out of there and never built.”

County officials have posted similar notifications and updates about the process to bring a wind farm to the county in a local newspaper. But, some residents said they don’t receive that newspaper and were not notified in any other way.

“Even at the meetings, we get hushed if we start asking questions,” said Stutzman. “Listen to the citizens and the taxpayers of this county. Give us our voice back.”

Stutzman said she also fears how much traffic will pass by her home, surrounded by dirt roads.

“300-400 trucks a day will go by if this goes through when they do construction,” said Stutzman. “What’s that going to do to me, my animals, my horses?”

Marion County commissioners voted 3-1 to go ahead with the wind farm and said the next step is to start negotiation contracts for the pilot agreement, road maintenance and overall development plan.

Commissioner Dianne Novak said she is still worried about those residents who weren’t notified before renovating, purchasing or updating property.

“They have been expressing their concerns and their shock of not knowing that they built property, bought new homes or remodeled existing farmsteads only to learn they are now potentially going to be in the middle of a wind farm,” said Novak.

Novak and residents said lawsuits have been filed.

“It is under litigation or potential litigation,” said Novak. “A lot of the property owners have filed suit against Marion County commissioners.”

But, it’s not just the land that many are worried about. Some say wildlife may be at risk, as well.

“The Flint Hills Eco-Region is not a place for wind energy,” said Michelle Butts. “There are multiple land owners out here that are too scared to speak out against this. I have a spring-fed pond that during the migration months, is completely filled with different varieties of water fowl.”

Butts fears those species will not stay if the wind turbines are installed.

Both Stutzman and Butts said if the county continues with the wind farm, they plan to move out of the county.

Officials and residents said a zoning and planning commission meeting will be help several times this week with county commissioners to discuss further plans for the wind farm project.

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