Newkirk landowners want county to pass ordinance

April 29, 2019 | Featured|Headlines

By SHARON ROWEN |KAY NEWSCOW

NEWKIRK — Kay County Commissioners continue to tell a group of landowners that they can’t pass an ordinance demanding Duke Energy push a developing wind farm back three miles further north of Newkirk.

Landowners have been attending commission meetings since late March, after they learned of the project referred to as Frontier 2 Wind Power Project.

The  350 megawatt project will consist of 70-80 wind turbines, 599 feet tall on leased properties owned by 130 landowners east of the city.

During the March 25 meeting, resident Frank Cain told commissioners the wind farm will be shaped like a horse shoe.

Commissioner Jason Shanks said the board can only approve or disapprove a road use agreement.
“This is not personal to me,” he said.
Resident Caryl Morgan told Shanks it should be personal if he is worried about being re-elected.
“I’m not worried about being re-elected I can promise you that,” replied Shanks.

District Attorney Brian Hermanson explained that the county could face a lawsuit if they were to wrongfully interfere but added that he does not think the request made of Duke Energy by landowners is unreasonable.

Morgan, who lives two miles east and one mile north of Newkirk, has expressed concerns about roadways both private and county.

On April 28 Shanks told Morgan that Brake Road, Earth Road, Prentice Road, and Longwood, are listed as routes. “They have given us rough drafts and we can make them put down magnesium chloride down for dust control,” said Shanks.

During the April 15 meeting Shanks said the board has not approved an agreement because of the black top roads in the area.

Morgan doesn’t believe commissioners have properly kept the public informed of the project.

“The first public meeting was held in Blackwell in 2016,” she said. “It was promoted it in the Blackwell paper so not many from Newkirk knew about it. I found out about it by word of mouth.”

Hermanson said the topic has been on county agendas many times.
“That agenda is the notice to the public,” he said. “We can’t contact all the land owners. All media gets copies and anyone can be placed on the agenda email list.”

Landowner Jay Fagan said he and others were notified on April 25 via an email from Duke Energy of an  April 30 meeting at the county courthouse.
Morgan said Duke asked no media or protestors attend.
However, the courthouse is public so anyone could have attended.

Kaw Nation attorney, Ken Bellmard, said the tribe was notified of the meeting by  the landowners and not Duke Energy.

The tribe has adopted a resolution expressing the tribe’s opposition to the project.

Bellmard said he did not plan to attend the Tuesday meeting.

“They haven’t responded to any request we have made,” said Bellmard. “They have never shared with us what the road use is gonna be. We are concerned that they are pitting two groups against each other. We are not interested in another trade show meeting.”

Commissioner Jason Shanks says the topic is not personal.

Bellmard stated in the April 15 meeting that the tribe wants strict perimeters and cultural attributes in tribal areas.

During an April 15 meeting, Graham Furlong, Duke Energy managing director of business development, said he would meet and work on a final layout with Kaw Nation and gather feedback from the community.
Furlong also stated that Phase III of the project is planned for west and south of Highway 11, originally the Frontier II project. He indicated the projects could be built out of order.

County commissioner John Wilson asked if the corporation commission regulates wind farms.

Cain said he has been talking with Sen. Bill Coleman about the issue and that currently wind projects must meet industry standards and be located a mile and half away from schools and hospitals.

Landowners say they plan to continue to attend county commission meetings.

Comments from land owner Caryl Morgan.