Vote falls short for Reno County wind farm to move forward

HUTCHINSON, Kan. Reno County commissioners Thursday did not unanimously agree to move plans for a proposed wind farm forward. That vote had to be unanimous to keep Next Era Energy's plans to put more than 80 turbines at a site in southeast Reno County north of Cheney Lake and south of Haven.

The Reno County Planning Commission made its recommendation to deny the wind farm in a narrow, 4-3 vote on April 23. The commission was not required to go along with that recommendation in its final vote Thursday night, but it needed that unanimous approval to override it.

The plan failed with a 'no' vote from Reno County Commissioner Ron Hirst.

The majority of the planning commission's April 23 meeting centered around the proximity of proposed wind turbines to homes and property lines, as well as the distance from schools and churches.

Opponents of the proposed win farm expressed concerns related to noise levels the wind turbines could generate as well as possible impacts on property values, the environment, health, and wildlife, especially birds.

Ahead of the planning commission's recommendation, Eyewitness News took a close look at the main concerns and sought to separate wind-farm fact from fiction.

Supporters of the the proposed wind farm also weighed in at meetings leading up to the commission's final vote. As expected, a full crowd gathered Thursday night at Hutchinson's Fox Theater to make their voices heard one more time before the commission made its final vote.