January 14, 2020 Tuesday 1:30
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with all three Commissioners, the County Counselor and the County Clerk present.
Jim Harris and Jerad Heckman met with the Commissioners; Jim said they are moving the crusher to the Thomas Quarry to do a blast later this week. They are doing a hydraulic study on an area at Deer and 250th. They are installing a French drain on 2215th south of the County shop. They are patching around the County. The Belly dump trucks are hauling gravel. Jim said they just completed the State inspection at the Landfill; there were zero violations. They will be covering debris at the Landfill in February. Jim said the road crew worked last weekend due to the snow and ice. Jim and Lynne had planned to take a trip to look at equipment, but that is cancelled.
Lynne discussed old roads in the County that are not on the County maps; a road was recently questioned, the Register of Deeds office did not show the road as an open road, but in the past a County road grader operator graded the road, but the road had been closed since 1896. The Commissioners said they need to devise a plan to address this problem.
Jeff made a motion to go into a 5 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Jim Harris and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
Nick reported a pothole on Quail and 215th.
Larry Martin reported water running across Maple Road by the Hixon residence; Jim said the Hixon resident requested that the ditch be filled, Jim said when it dries out, they will address this issue.
Nick made a motion that at 6:00 the Commission meeting be moved to the 3rd floor Courtroom, Jeff seconded and all approved.
Jeff made a motion to go into a 10 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
Jeff made a motion to move the Commission meeting to the 1st floor lobby to accommodate everyone in attendance, Nick seconded and all approved.
Present for the following wind farm discussion were Connie Neil, June Bloomfield, Anne Dare, Bud & Ione Eisele, Joe & Barb Peine, Mary Pemberton, Barbara Schmidt, Arlene Weber, Larry, Kim & Ashton Simons, Dennis Meech, Larry Henaril (sp?), Richard Albright, Wilma Hibdon, Larry (?), Jeremiah Hill, Tim Emerson, Mike Wunderly, Rich Clark Rei Clark, Michael Hoyt, Bill & Ruby Keith, Brent Smith, Kyle Martin, Tyler Martin, Pete Wiley, Della Burns (sp?), Heather Herring, Jim Covey, Geoff Southwell, Brody Southwell, Lauren Johnson, Amanda Gilmore, Jane Lifer, Brad Blythe, Ralph Carlson, Jade Scheele, Julianna Planelli, Luke Hagedorn, Alan Anderson, Helen Humphrey & John George.
John George, a lifetime resident of Uniontown and founder of Ag Engineering Associates said he had been in the business of supporting agriculture for 46 years and had experience with many different types of projects in different locations. John heard at last Thursday’s wind farm meeting that we had to have zoning in this county; his perspective was that the last thing we need is zoning. Initially zoning was put in place to protect farmers, and now is commonly used to restrict them. He said in his years of business he had never seen zoning done well in rural counties; he said many times zoning is done in a reactionary mode. He said he had seen a farmer driven out of an area by urban encroachment. He discussed a five to ten million dollar potential investment of a dairy for a community that because of the zoning rules in that area they lost the dairy investment for their community. After considering the concerns raised by Anderson County opponents to wind energy last Thursday evening, he recommended that the commissioners consider the following course of action. .;
1. Commissioners may consider having a detailed review of the existing wind energy leases. He questioned how much information that had been presented at the prior meeting were based upon facts and how much were paranoid fantasies.
2. He suggested that the developer provide existing lessors a onetime window that provides landowners non-recourse option releasing them from the lease if reviewing these facts has changed their minds.
3. He recommended reviewing the termination clause. He said if the leases run forever and the revenue stream is interrupted or goes away the lease should also go away; he said if they aren’t productive that the leases should terminate.
Lynne reported that he recently visited with someone that had leased their land for a wind farm; that person felt they had a good lease and had the lease reviewed by legal counsel.
Economic Development Director Jody Hoener met with the Commissioners to discuss the hospital; she said a meeting was held with Bill Brittain and SEK Mental Health to discuss repurposing the hospital. She said they had a meeting to create a model of the lease space; they put pen to paper to see if this project would cash flow out and it was decided that it would. Jody said CHC had announced that they were taking ownership of the building to create the health care mall model. She said this would save the existing building and provide a healthcare facility; she asked for a letter of support from the Commissioners. Jeff made a motion to give Lynne the authority to sign the letter, Justin said the letter was not legally binding, the letter stated said the County will provide in kind support and time limited cash injection support to CHC SEK for development, good faith collaboration with outside organizations, and access to nothing short of emergency services, primary care, mental health, and outpatient care services.” After some discussion, Nick seconded the motion and Lynne signed the letter.
Jody Hoener presented guidelines for the Bourbon County incubator space. The guidelines stated the incubator space is looking for the following types of companies; for profit entities, research and development, technology oriented & innovative traditional entities. The Commissioners plan to review the guidelines and adopt on January 21st. Jeff made a motion to allow Jody to attend a boot camp regarding the incubator space, Nick seconded and all approved, (the initial cost to attend is $1,495, but will be $495 after reimbursements). Jody briefly discussed the business retention/expansion program.
Mary Pemberton discussed the wages for the Economic Development position; she said it had been announced that the wages had doubled for that position due to the long hours the position requires, she asked if this was now a 40 hour/week position, Lynne said when this position was created it was to be no less than 20 hours per week and when created they planned to revisit the position in one year, he said yes this is a full time position. Lynne said the Economic Development Director was assigned the task of getting an ambulance in place the first day of their job and they worked more than the 20 hours a week required.
Wind farm discussion – concerning contracts; Justin Meeks stated that the Commissioners can’t sign a contract unless it’s done in a public meeting (not behind closed doors). Jim Covey asked if the Commissioners had studied the detriments of the wind farms. Bill Keith asked if it was said that the Commission would have a lawyer look at the concepts in depth; Jeff Fischer said it was his mission to get a better understanding of the facts concerning the wind farms. Barb Peine said most of the money generated from the wind farm goes to Germany; Alan Anderson with Polsinelli Law Firm said this is the cheapest source of energy which helps keep energy rates lower. Mrs. Peine asked if her taxes would go down with the installation of the wind farms; Lynne said the County’s goal is a 13% reduction in taxes in 10 years. Taxes for the wind farm company; Jeff said that he believes that Kansas has exempted property taxes for new construction of all types of electric generation for 10 or 12 years. Following the abatement period they are then taxed at a commercial (25%) or a utility rate (33%). It was asked if the wind farm company would shut down after the subsidies ran out; Alan Anderson said no project has ever shut down and said in 10 years it would be in operation and they would be paying property taxes. Jeff said the power generated from the wind farms goes to the Southwest power pool for electric companies to purchase. The general flow through the SPP is North or South depending on the season. The power lines from the wind farms goes underground to the interconnect to the existing N-S transmission lines in western Bourbon County It was stated that Apex, a private company, can’t use eminent domain. It was asked why Crawford County is getting 20% and Bourbon County is getting 80% of the wind mills; this is due to the wind patterns. Jim Covey asked how many landowners had signed leases; Kim Simons said 22. Jim Covey asked what the wind farm company needed from the County; Jeff Fischer said probably nothing but to use the County roads. Alan Anderson said there is a lot of misinformation about the wind farms. He briefly discussed a mechanics lien; he said there is a small window of time where a mechanics lien could be put on a property until a bond is put in place. Their contracts with the contractor require this bond should such a lien be placed on the leased property. Jim Covey asked if they were looking for a credit from the County; Alan Anderson said no, it is not offered from the County but the State has a 10 year property tax abatement.
Nick made a motion to go into a 15 minute executive session in the Commission room for confidential data relating to financial affairs or trade secrets of corporations, partnerships, trusts and individual proprietorships, Lynne seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Justin Meeks and Polsinelli Law Firm representing APEX Clean Energy). No action was taken. The Commissioners will meet again on January 21st at 1:30 to continue discussing again.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 10 minute executive session for Consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 10 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Jeff seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Justin Meeks and Jim Harris). No action was taken.
Nick made a motion to break for lunch and reconvene at 6:00 pm in the Courtroom on 3rd floor, Jeff seconded and all approved.
Present (that signed a sign in sheet) for the following wind farm discussion were the following: Allen Warren, Lori Lovelace, Carol Oakleaf, Marita Meech, Kim Simons, Bill & Ruby Keith, David & Doretta Neville, Deb Lust, Roy and Anne Dare, Ralph Carlson, Bob & Joyce Love, June Bloomfield, Jane B.?, Joe George, Greg Harris, Sara Conkling, Arlene Weber, Jackie Feagins, Aaron Brown, Richard Albright, Joe & Barb Peine, Richard & Rei Clark, a Crawford County resident (unsure of name), Beth Snyder, Larry & Kathlene Gilliland, Dean Bailey, Gertrude Harper, Wayne & Stacy Racy, Kaleb Simpson, Larry Simons, Linda Minor, Marilyn Hoyt, William & Anita Partridge, Annette Bohlken, Mary Pemberton, Darren Crays, Darla Crays, Delbert Crays, Janice Bailey, David Snow, Marla Koester, Robin Webb, Bill Lalman, Brody Southwell, David Bailey, Jacob Bielenberg, Bill Michaud, Gary Billionis, Jody Hoener, James Allison, Kati ?, Keith M?, Holly Koch, Brad Blythe, Jerome Tricke, Davis Herring, John George, Kevin Allen, Jim & Lanette Keller, Kerry & Tammie O’Brien, Sklyer Cruse, Taylor Wade, Brent Smith, Michelle LeChevalis, Chris Knapp, Kyle O’Brien, Michael O’Brien, Kevin Huber, 2 unreadable names, Mike & Katie Towne, Dwayne O’Brien, Janis Shireman (sp?), unreadable name, Julianna Planelli, Helen Humphrey, J. Sity, Leon Fry, Sherral Fry, Joe & Ann Ludlum, Jade Scheele, Alan Anderson, Luke Hagedorn, Michael Hoyt, Ashton Simons, Todd Beerbower, Kyle Schnichels, Autumn Metcalf, Pam Fowler, Mika Milburn Kee, Karen Kellenberger, Brenda Bailey, Bud & Ione Eisele, Mike Wunderly, Tyler Martin, Dawson Minor, unreadable, Jeremiah Hill, Steven Mason, Jared Pollock, Larry Martin, David Foster, Dr. Kellenberger, Heather Herring and Glenda & Bob Miller.
Lori Lovelace said she was a proponent of wind energy; but said she was an appraiser and had seen the property values decline due to the wind towers. She said she believed in transparency and protecting the rights of all. She suggested implementing a planning and zoning board.
Mary Pemberton asked that the Commissioners delay signing any agreements and form an advisory committee to hold more meetings, get the goals and objectives. She said the Commissioners are supposed to represent everyone in the County. She said it appears that the PILOT agreement rate for Bourbon County is lower than the average negotiated pilot rate.
Jim Keller said he was in support of the wind farms; he said he disagreed with some of the comments that had been said about the wind farms.
David Foster with Foster Dairy said he respected the opinions of everyone in the Count, he said he didn’t believe the wind farms would affect the area in a negative way. He suggested allowing time to absorb and reflect on if residents want them or not. He said he was a proponent of clean wind energy.
Joe Ludlum said this is the second time he had signed a wind lease; he said he is a farmer and landowner; he is an owner of resources and wants the resources to be used. He said the revenue from the wind farms is above what the cows on his land will ever produce. He said he had no concerns over the wind farms, but sees the economic benefit of the wind farm company spending the millions of dollars to build the wind farms here.
Arlene Weber said she was opposed to the wind farms; she said she is a small land owner that is already being encroached upon by out of state hunters. She said they have medical devices in their home and was concerned of the effect the wind farms will have on those devices.
Jarrett Dauben said he was for the wind mills; he said the revenue from building the wind farms can help the County and all of the small businesses here.
Marita Meech said she lives in the Northern part of Bourbon County; she discussed the effects of wind farms, she questioned if they would improve or degrade the County land values. She asked if the County had discussed wind farms with the neighboring counties; she said 2/3 of them didn’t allow the wind farms and the one that did is likely regretting their decision. She asked if they had been instructed by APEX to not discuss the contracts, or had a competent lawyer reviewed the contracts. She said that the Commissioners in 2012 failed to put zoning in place. She discussed the legacy being left for future generations. Lynne Oharah said the County had never been involved with contracts between APEX and the landowners; he said the County involvement would be for road service agreements and de-commissioning contracts. Lynne said that legal counsel had gone over the County documents. Justin Meeks said the landowners should have their contracts reviewed by legal counsel.
Barb Peine said she lives in the Northeastern part of Bourbon County; she said from the earlier meeting held that Jayhawk Wind is a private company and said there is no eminent domain concerning wind farms. She said if there is no zoning, why they have to have road use agreements. She suggested tabling the decision for a while for the taxpayers. She said they were losing their rights as landowners.
Kevin Allen discussed the business side of the wind farms; he felt they would be good for our community. He briefly discussed Running Foxes, he said some of their pumps were now idle and not being taken care of. Kevin discussed a bingo hall that was proposed for the area approximately 15 years ago; the public pushed back and the bingo hall wasn’t built here and the revenue went elsewhere. Kevin suggested that everyone do their homework regarding the wind farms.
Mike Wunderly said he was against the wind farms; he was concerned of the effects of the other landowners. He said he had previously leased land to Running Foxes and made good money for this; his lease stated that when the pumps were not being used the company had 90 days to clean them up, he said that was 4 years ago and the work is still not done. He was concerned over what we could get stuck with regarding the wind farms.
Tom Metcalf Jr. said he wasn’t a fan of the wind farms; he discussed the skyline area of the wind farms and being able to see forever. He questioned if the wind farms revenue could help out the schools.
Ralph Carlson said he didn’t feel the County was ready to do anything with wind farms yet; he suggested waiting a year to evaluate and make a decision. He said the sunsets are best here compared to other areas. He stated that wind power kills 5,100 people a year.
Kim Simons questioned why anyone would want to put a hole on their land filled with cement to hold the turbines that are not green, she said they are made of steel, copper, fiberglass and resin. She said there were not many landfills that would take the disposed wind turbines. She said her goal was to put out the negative side of wind farms to protect everyone. She suggested that the Commissioner put something in place to help protect the landowners in the middle. She questioned what happens when the current wind farm company sells or when the subsidies are gone and the company leaves. She said it costs $250,000 – $500,000 to remove a wind turbine. She asked if the Commissioners would guarantee that the property values won’t go down. She told the people that had signed an agreement with APEX that their neighbors could sue them for their property value declining. She said the citizens should have known about the wind farm coming to this area. She said she felt there was a conflict of interest for a county employee involved in the wind farms since this employee’s husband and brother works for a person that has leased land to the wind farm company; she asked that the employee be removed from the project.
Mika Milburn Kee said we have a responsibility to look out for each other; she discussed the roads being tied up when they were moving the turbines in.
Bill Michaud said it seemed we had a room divided (for and against the wind farms). He said he didn’t think you could compare wind farm companies. He said you often hear that property taxes are too high. He said after the PILOT period, they will be paying taxes after that. He said this is money that future commissioners will have access to. He said some will benefit from the economic impact of the wind farms.
Kevin Huber said he had worked on other wind farms; he said he understood the concerns. He said there will be no economic impact if you don’t bring them to the area. He said there will be a huge economic impact during the construction phase; after construction he said they will have an economic impact on the community and schools. He felt the wind farms were worth looking into. Kim Simons said there will be a short time of economic impact, but will be stuck with the wind farms for years.
It was asked if this (the Southwest part of the county) was the only proposed location; Jeff Fischer said he knew of no other location. Someone suggested without zoning the wind farms could surround us; Lynne said their locations are based on the scale of the wind pattern and the companies are looking for areas where the towers will perform the best.
It was asked if it was true that landowners in Allen County were getting liens put on their property; Alan Anderson said if there is a dispute in a payment there could be a time where a mechanics lien was put on a property until a bond was put in place to eliminate the mechanics lien.
Alan Anderson discussed a proposed decommissioning agreement with the County; he said a bond could be put in place to handle this.
It was asked who would benefit from the electricity produced from the wind farm; Jeff said the electricity would be deposited into the Southwest power pool, where companies could buy the electricity to sell to its customers.
Dr. Kellenberger suggested not rushing into anything; he had concerns over the effects wind farms had on medical devices.
The Commissioners plan to have another evening meeting in approximately a month to discuss wind farms further (no date has been set for the next evening meeting). It was asked if the Commissioners planned to sign any road use agreements before the next evening meeting; the Commissioners said no.
The meeting adjourned at 7:40.
THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
OF BOURBON COUNTY, KANSAS
(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jeff Fischer, Commissioner
(ss) Nick Ruhl, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
January 21, 2020, Approved Date