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Barton County Approves Solar Regulations

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By Lucky Kidd

 

GREAT BEND, Kan. — Noting the decisiveness in the community and difficulty in coming to this point, Barton County Commissioners Friday adopted three resolutions that will as a group set out regulations for large scale non-commercial and commercial scale solar energy conversion systems in Barton County.

The resolutions add these uses as a conditional use in seven zoning districts within the unincorporated areas the county has jurisdiction over, set out the minimum requirements for future development, which include changes in setback zones to one thousand feet from a property line, which would be the largest such setback in Kansas unless a landowner agrees otherwise, and revise the county’s zoning map to reflect this.

Within the regulations are mandatory notification requirements for properties adjoining proposed solar facility sites, along with 3rd party review of plans and groundwater monitoring requirements among others.

The regulations also impose a ban on any solar development covering about 49,000 acres, which roughly extends a mile beyond an existing area where wind energy systems are not allowed including the area surrounding Cheyenne Bottoms.

Commissioners unanimously approved the first two resolutions, with the zoning map adopted on a 4-1 vote with Duane Reif opposed. With this approval, the solar moratorium adopted last year will expire Monday.