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Wind farm construction traffic to avoid rebuilt 330th

Despite exemption, company may pay taxes

Staff writer

Impending wind farm construction in the northwest corner of the county won’t imperil a newly rebuilt 330th Rd., commissioners learned Monday.

Nick Coil, a development manager for Lenexa-based Tradewind Energy Inc., told commissioners that Tradewind will avoid 330th Rd., other than to cross it at intersections. A $2.1 million project to fix the road is scheduled to finish by the end of the year, only a few months before the wind farm plans to start construction.

Tradewind’s proposal will be considered at an Oct. 26 planning and zoning meeting. Commissioners will then have to act on a recommendation before the wind farm is approved.

Coil said Tradewind will erect between 100 and 150 turbines. Each turbine foundation requires hundreds of cubic yards of concrete.

Construction traffic will follow a published, public route, but road damage is inevitable from a higher volume of traffic and exceeded weight limits, Coil said.

“We are going to tear up all the roads, and we can’t just jump ship,” he said.

The company, which is taking high-resolution images and core samples of roads, will repair damaged infrastructure.

“Before we leave, we return the roads to a condition as good or better than they were,” Coil said.

He said Tradewind is working with the county road and bridge department to develop a plan to upgrade infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and culverts.

Coil suggested a road maintenance agreement between the county and Tradewind that would include a third party.

He said Tradewind covers the cost, but they want to know the cost upfront. He added that an agreement should detail communication channels among commissioners, road and bridge, Tradewind, and a third party to avoid problems.

Coil said Tradewind prefers the county be the ultimate authority on the road maintenance agreement.

Commissioners directed county clerk Tina Spencer to work on a request for qualifications and proposals for a third party.

A Kirkham Michael representative spoke to commissioners a week earlier about services it provides. Coil said Tradewind has worked with Kirkham Michael as a third party for other wind farm projects.

Coil said wind energy generation used to have a lifetime tax exemption, but no longer does. The exemption now lasts 10 years.

“We would like just for the goodwill purposes of it to do a pilot payment of the taxes the first 10 years,” Coil said. “That’s some sort of negotiated amount; we’ll come to the table in the near-term. I’ll probably get back to talk to you about that.”

Commissioners met behind closed doors for five minutes to discuss potential litigation, citing attorney-client privilege.

Afterward, commissioners approved seeking outside legal counsel review of planning and zoning regulation and documents pertaining to wind farm projects in the county.

“Just like we are getting an engineer to look at some things to make sure that our roads are taken care of, I would like to run some of these by an attorney who has dealt more with wind farms,” county counselor Susan Robson said.

Auditor to explain county budget

A meeting addressing county taxpayer concerns over the county budget and cash reserves will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Marion Community Center.

Accountant Scot Loyd, of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, will present a public forum on the county budget and finances, including cash balances and reserves.

The county’s 2016 audit showed $14.7 million unencumbered cash, but county clerk Tina Spencer said $11.7 million is actually allocated or restricted for various purposes, leaving just $3 million available.

Rural fire chiefs have asked for a portion of the money to help pay for new 800 MHz radios. Economic development directors from Hillsboro and Marion asked for the money to go to tax relief.

Refreshments are provided.

Last modified Oct. 18, 2017

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