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Reno County Planners Delay Action on Solar Regulations

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By Lucky Kidd

 

RENO COUNTY, Kan. — The Reno County Planning Commission heard over an hour and a half of comments from citizens Thursday night regarding proposed solar energy regulation, after which they indicated a desire to take time to consider the comments. With that, the public hearing on the proposal was recessed to their next regular meeting on Nov. 16.

The proposal involves three separate changes to Reno County zoning regulations. The regulations themselves, adding that section to the table of contents, and amending an existing section to require a conditional use permit for solar arrays.

There were a number of common concerns raised in the hearing, many of which centered on the impact commercial solar projects would have on the Cheney Lake Watershed, which provides the Wichita area with 70 percent of its water supply.

Those concerns include risks of soil and water contamination from damaged solar panels and impacts on vegetation and wildlife, where and how damaged solar panels would be disposed of, and setback requirements which several speakers should be based on property lines and not the array itself.

A number of speakers asked that commercial solar development be prohibited within the Cheney Lake Watershed, if not county-wide as has been proposed in Harvey County. Generally no objections were raised on residential or more localized small solar systems.

Another concern raised was the fact none of the energy that would be generated from a commercial solar project under consideration in Reno County would be used in Kansas, much less Reno County.

The Planning Commission will resume their part of the hearing as part of the Thursday, November 16th meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Public Works Facility in South Hutchinson.