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New draft of Lawrence-Douglas County wind regulations published; committee seeks feedback

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Members of a committee have completed a new draft of wind energy regulations for Lawrence and Douglas County, and now they’re seeking public feedback to help guide further revisions.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission in January 2022 asked city staff members to review existing regulations for wind energy systems, particularly commercial ones, to better align them with recently adopted solar regulations.

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City staff members produced a draft of new regulations in January 2023. The planning commission voted in March to form an ad hoc committee to help revise that into a second draft.

The new draft adds additional information needed from applicants; gives some authority to the zoning and codes director rather than the governing bodies; adds more details that would be required in noise impact assessments and more. It also adds a setback of 3 miles for any commercial wind project from Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks-managed properties.

The new draft limits turbine height to 600 feet, and it limits shadow flicker to any nonparticipating occupied structure to 15 minutes per day. It also adds requirements for a post-construction restoration plan.

Many community members spoke about the draft regulations in general public comment during the September planning commission meeting. In particular, several people shared concerns about the proposed setback requirements, or required distances between wind turbines and neighboring properties and structures.

Here’s part of the table of proposed setback requirements from the new draft:

TABLE 1. (12-306-44) C-WECS Setback Requirements Feature Setback
Participating landowner Occupied Structure 1,500 feet 
Non-Participating Property Line 1,500 feet 
Public roads 110% Turbine Total Height 
Overhead utility lines 110% Turbine Total Height 
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks managed properties 3 miles 
County Boundary Line 1,500 feet 

Several people said they thought the setback from other properties should be at least double the proposed 1,500 feet, which is a little more than a quarter of a mile. Some said they believe it should be 1 mile (5,280 feet) or more.

Here are the new proposed draft regulations:

20230926-Wind-energy-regs-draft

See the previous draft at this link.

Community meetings are planned over the next couple of weeks, to be followed by a public hearing:

• Monday, Oct. 9: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Baldwin City Public Library, 800 Seventh St., Baldwin City
• Sunday, Oct. 15: 1 to 3 p.m. at Flory Hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2120 Harper St., Lawrence
• Tuesday, Oct. 17: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Greenbush Resource Center (former Wakarusa Valley school), 1104 East 1000 Road, Lawrence
• Thursday, Oct. 19: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Lecompton Historic High School, 640 E. Woodson Ave. in Lecompton

The public hearing is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

Members of the public can also email comments to windregs@lawrenceks.org or mail them to Lawrence Planning Office (Attn: Wind Regs) at 1 Riverfront Plaza, Suite 320, Lawrence, KS 66044. Comments must be received by 10 a.m. on Oct. 23.

See more on the city’s wind regulations community engagement webpage at lawrenceks.org/community-engagement/revised-wind-regulations/.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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