An energy company hoping to establish a wind farm in Pratt County will have to keep its 400-foot towers about three and a half miles from approaches to the Pratt Industrial Airport, but that news should come as no surprise to Indeck Energy Services.
“Where they were initially looking that won’t work,” said Airport Manager Reid Bell this morning. “It won’t work in close proximity to the airport. But before they build anything like this they know they’ve got to talk to the FAA. They never intended to go against an FAA finding.”
The Federal Aviation Administration must issue a finding on any structure over 200 feet tall, but it’s up to local government agencies to establish rules enforcing FAA findings. An ordinance passed Monday night by the City Commission does just that.
The ordinance establishing protected airspace around the airport was required when the Pratt Airport Authority accepted federal funding for resurfacing its runway. Indeck’s negotiations with Pratt County landowners began at about the same time, causing some observers to assume that the ordinance was a response to the project.
The City Commission formed a special Airport Zoning Commission to study and recommend the airspace ordinance. A diverse group of advocates for landowners, the airport and economic development were chosen for the advisory board, and on Monday the city commissioners praised their efforts to find a middle ground for the competing interests.
“We tried to balance the need to protect airspace with the rights of property owners,” said Jim Stratford for the Airport Zoning Commission. “And we tried to minimize the bureaucracy.”
Bell said state regulators are even looking at the ordinance as a model for other communities in Kansas.
“This could have been a real contentious issue and you guys did a good job of putting it together,” Commissione Bill Hlavachick said.
In other business, the Commission:
Proclaimed May 11-17 as National Police Week and May 15 as Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Day. A ceremony at noon May 15 at the Municipal Building will recognize police officers killed in the line of duty.
• Purchased a new Altec single bucket service truck for the Electric Department for an amount not to exceed $95,949 plus tax. A 1992 bucket truck was traded in for $3,500.
• Gave the Fire Department permission by consensus to seek bids for the first phas of remodeling the former JC Foods building into a new fire station.
• Reappointed Ken Gates and Rick Abrams to new three-year terms on the City Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.