Minutes of the Bo Co Commission for May 13

May 13, 2024                                                                               Monday, 5:30 p.m.



The Board of Bourbon County Commissioners met in open session with all Commissioners and the County Clerk present.



Angie Owenby, Pete Owenby, Sam Owen, Jason Silvers, Mike Wunderly, Deb Martin, Roxy Gregg, Deion Gregg, Brent Smith, Diana McKinney, and Clint Walker were present for some or all of the meeting.



Jim opened the meeting with the flag salute.



Clifton made a motion to approve the consent agenda which includes approval of minutes from 5-6-2024. Brandon seconded the motion and all approved.



Sam Owen introduced himself as a candidate for Senate District 13 and spoke of his goals if he were to get elected. Jim wished him good luck.



Mike Wunderly said all the gravel haulers have done a fantastic job getting things fixed up after the storm. Mike also said the truck drivers are being courteous and moving over and stopping when they meet an oncoming vehicle. Jim and Eric both thanked Mike for the compliments and Eric said he would relay it to his crew.



Rob Harrington reminded everyone about the sales tax vote tomorrow and said many entities won’t come without some form of a subsidy. Rob urged people to go out and vote.



Pete Owenby asked the Commissioners what they thought of Mary Pemberton’s suggestion  last week of forming a committee to assist with solar panel information. Jim said he doesn’t 100% support or oppose the idea. Jim said we need to get special use permit on the ballot because nothing today makes the solar companies have to come and talk with us. Pete asked if a committee was formed who would choose the members and Jim stated the Commissioners would. Pete said he was asked why he was so against solar farms and he said he shouldn’t have to put my tax dollars up, for example subsidies and tax credits, to pay somebody to make money off my property and make my property worth less and possibly put his family at health risk. Pete asked why anybody would be for it and asked the Commissioners if they would be okay if it was by their houses. Jim said a special use permit is a tool to cover restrictions and would be for industrial or commercial purposes. Jim said the companies would have to fill out a permit and it would have to be approved by the Commissioners. Brandon said it could be a tool to make sure solar farms wouldn’t have lithium battery packs and they could put restrictions saying the energy must go directly into the grid and not a battery bank. Jim said the safety restrictions would be based upon KDHE and OSHA. It was asked if we have zoning would we have a zoning board. Jim said yes, we would have a zoning board who would review the permit and make suggestions to the Board of Commissioners. Clifton said there is no limited zoning that zoning is zoning.



Bo Casper said they have an attorney working on drawing up a petition and he asked if it was going to be limited zoning or zoning. Jim said the petition would have to say commercial/industrial and they would need to submit a copy of the permit for legal and KAC to ensure legality. Jim said once zoning is established it can grow and expand without going back to the voters. Clifton agreed and said you have to be careful with what you wish for.



Deion Gregg asked how the solar panels only have a setback of 25 feet from a boundary line when oil wells have to be at least 100 feet.



Vance Eden, Superintendent of USD 235, asked if the Commissioners have researched the contributions and PILOT funds to determine if they have to be distributed to the school districts. Jim said they are still reviewing the information and asked if the school district was working with FSCC. Vance said yes, they are working with the college regarding trades. Clifton asked if the school partnered with FSCC to get a trade program similar to STARS if they would still need to do the ag shop rehab. Vance said yes because they would still need introductory level classes for students. Clifton said he would be in support of giving money for a joint effort trade school and thinks that would be an excellent use of PILOT funds.



Brian Allen, Emergency Manager, said we do not need to extend the proclamation of local disaster and handed out the Governor’s state proclamation of disaster. Brian said he and Eric Bailey, Public Works Director, updated their map of road issues today to keep residents updated on the damage. Jim asked how Eric was funding the repairs and Eric said they have had to dip into their special projects fund. Eric said countywide there is major washout damage, guardrail damage, culverts washed out, and they are waiting for Schwab Eaton to finish inspecting bridges to know the extent of the damage to those. Maple Road west of 125th  Street has been closed due to a washout under the asphalt, and Eric said the crew has started working on that location today. Eric said they are having a hard time keeping cones and stated each cone is $22.00 and so far, they have lost over 100. Eric said the feet off the barricades have been stolen as well and reminded residents they are up for their safety. Brian said the Public Works crew has been working hard but they haven’t been able to get to every road yet and urged residents to be patient as they’re doing the best they can. Eric said he has a great crew who has been working a lot of hours.



Jennifer Hawkins, County Clerk, said early voting ended at noon today and they had a total of 689 voters during the last week. Jennifer said this was a good turnout for early voting and explained a lot of residents took advantage of voting early while they were at the courthouse paying their taxes that were due last week. Jennifer said she received a road closure application and that Eric has viewed the sections of road they are wanting to close. Jim asked Eric his opinion and Eric stated he would be in favor of closing the road. Jennifer stated all landowners affected have signed the application and the final step is to hold a hearing that she would publish in the newspaper.



Brandon said he would be in favor of a bi-partisan committee of five volunteers that would consist of individuals that are both pro-solar and against solar. Clifton said he has stated for the last three years he is not a committee person, but he is not against this committee and stated those interested should submit a letter explaining why they want to be on the committee. Clifton said the reality of the matter is how do you put the cat back in the bag, because solar panel farms are here. Clifton said agreements have been signed and there is millions in exposure that our insurance won’t cover. Clifton said he is 100% against zoning and that nobody is going to tell him what he is going to do on his land. Jim said a special use permit is just the beginning and it could potentially expand until it is full zoning. Jim made a motion to receive applications from concerned citizens that want to serve on a committee to help us review setbacks for solar panel farms. Brandon seconded the motion. Jim asked if the other Commissioners wanted to accept the letters for two weeks, and Clifton said 30 days would be better. Jim added that they would accept letters for 30 days and if it is not un-biased, they would start over. All approved the motion.



Pete Owenby talked about the two different types of commercial, intrastate and interstate. Tim Emerson asked if the Commissioners have heard from people who are for solar, and explained not people who are receiving money from it, but people who are for the benefit of solar. Bo Casper said he is concerned about the high fences surrounding the solar panel farms and the impact they will have on wildlife. Deion Gregg asked why solar farms don’t have to have a privacy fence like junkyards do. Jim said the county has no regulations and stated the fence around junkyards is a state regulation. Vance Eden said he has spent time working with the companies for the school district and they have talked about putting shrubs or trees in to hide the panels. Pete Owenby asked about the loss of value for his property because he thinks it will go down 50%. Jim said he couldn’t get a written statement from a real estate appraiser to confirm that. Pete said he could get it in writing and Jim said it needs to be a certified land appraiser.





Jim made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:37. Brandon seconded the motion and all approved.





___________________, Chairman


ATTEST:                                                                                                    ___________________, Commissioner


Jennifer Hawkins, Bourbon County Clerk

5-20-2024                               Approved Date


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