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County Commission Extends Moratorium on Commercial Solar Energy Projects in McPherson County


By Lucky Kidd


McPHERSON COUNTY, Kan. — During the County Commission Meeting on Monday, Aug. 28, the McPherson County Commission indefinitely extended a moratorium on commercial solar energy projects in McPherson County. The moratorium, which prohibits acceptance or processing of any solar permit applications, will remain in place until the Commission decides to remove or alter it.

The original moratorium was imposed in December 2021, and the resolution extending it states a study of issues related to large-scale solar energy projects is something that will take a significant amount of time due to a commitment to the best interests of McPherson County. The McPherson County Planning and Zoning Board has been directed to undertake a comprehensive study on the subject.

Commissioners approved the budgets for three rural fire districts that are exceeding their revenue neutral rates for 2024 and the resolutions to exceed RNR. Commissioners serve as the governing boards for these districts.

The largest levy increase for the group is for Rural Fire District 2, which includes the Marquette area and is exceeding the RNR by a combined just over one mill for their general and ambulance fund levies. The levy for Rural Fire District 4, which takes in Jackson Township in the Conway area, which will exceed RNR by about .85 mill, and for Rural Fire District 10 which includes the southern half of New Gottland Township and will exceed RNR by just over a half mill. District 10 along with King City and McPherson townships contracts for fire protection services with the City of McPherson.

A memorandum of understanding with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for replacement of a low water crossing on Pioneer Road just west of 27th Avenue leading into Maxwell Wildlife Refuge was approved. Under the agreement KDWP will acquire a borrow pit area, and reimburse the County for 50 percent of the project cost up to a maximum of $161,966. The crossing had been closed by the county earlier this year due to its very poor condition, limiting access to a portion of the public area on the refuge.

The proposed annexation of land on the north edge of Moundridge into the city was approved by Commissioners. Moundridge Manor petitioned the city to annex a 15.5 acre tract, which the Moundridge City Council had earlier approved. Due to the size of the property being annexed the County Commission is required to make certain findings, among which is that the annexation will not hinder or prevent proper growth or development of the area or that of any other incorporated city within the county, which isn’t an issue here.

The Commission approved revisions to the county’s storm water management policy. The policy basically follows the 2007 revised version of the City of McPherson’s Stormwater Management Policy, which includes the setting of fees the county charges along with a number of other adjustments related to reporting and exceptions including incorporation of design criteria including that of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Fiscal Year 2024 Adult and Juvenile Carryover Budgets and a budget amendment for Community Corrections were approved. This involves fees collected from Community Corrections clients over the past year. These carryover funds cover any expenses over and above the block grants it receives from the Kansas Department of Corrections to fund their programs. The budget amendment involves funds that were supposed to be credited to the FY2022 budget but were instead credited to the FY 2023 budget.

Approval was given to end of introductory period raises for a detective in the Sheriff’s Office and a night shift corrections officer. In his regular report, Sheriff Jerry Montagne said the number of people in the jail as of Monday was at 50, up eight from the prior week. Of note, only two of the current inmates are female. Another personnel change notice was approved to move a public works employee into an engineering tech position.

Commissioners also recognized Montagne for an award he received from Kansas Special Olympics for his long time volunteer support. He’s been involved in the program for over 30 years.