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Reno County Commission Approves Small-Scale Solar Regulations


By Lucky Kidd


RENO COUNTY, Kan. — Following another lengthy discussion Wednesday, Reno County Commissioners approved with one change regulations for limited-scale commercial solar systems, those of 2-megawatt-capacity or smaller on lot sizes of less than ten acres.

The change made was to permit storage batteries if enclosed in a building, which the Planning Commission had recommended not be allowed. Commissioner Don Bogner voted against the regulations, and the four votes were enough to meet a requirement for a 2/3rd majority to override that part of the recommendation. As approved, the regulations will allow rock or gravel surfacing beneath solar panels.

During the discussion, Commissioners at various times discussed whether action should be taken on large scale commercial facilities including banning it now in unzoned areas of the county, banning solar within the Cheney Lake Watershed, and whether the time has come to consider county-wide zoning. The issue of countywide zoning was tabled for now.

A project long under discussion to improve access out of Buhler during flood events is a step closer to happening. Reno County Public Works Director Don Brittain told Commissioners he has been notified federal funds have been allotted for construction of a new bridge over the Little Arkansas River on Buhler Road south of Buhler.

During flooding events both Buhler Road and 85th Avenue, which connects from Medora to 82nd Avenue out of Buhler, both become impassible, with the only access out of Buhler to Hutchinson involving a detour into McPherson County. This project will also include raising the elevation of Buhler Road to get it out of the flood zone,

Commissioners Wednesday approved a revised EMS agreement with Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. Reno County has contracted with the hospital under it’s various official names to operate EMS since 1971, and the current contract was put in place in 2003.

The revisions relate to purchases for EMS made with ARPA money, and states property purchased with ARPA funds would revert back to the county if the agreement were ever to be nullified.

A specific ARPA agreement will be presented to Commissioners at a future meeting, and once this agreement is in place Hutch Regional will move forward with a new EMS station project in Arlington dependent on ARPA funding.

Commissioners approved updated policies for Community Corrections including juvenile intensive supervision policy updates and for general policies. Commissioner John Whitsel raised concerns about the general policy updates, related to language that referenced diversity and equity inclusion that have come under fire from many conservatives.

The Commission approved submission of the Fiscal Year 2025 grant application to the Kansas Department of Corrections, and a contract with Community Solutions Inc. for quality assurance and coaching.