Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Official says power plant site at 195th, Bauserman

June 27, 2001

A $200 million power plant at the northwest corner of Bauserman Road and 195th Street isn't a done deal.

But it could be coming closer.

"My hope and dream is it will go through," said Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development.

On Tuesday, Carlson divulged the site under consideration by Duke Energy North America, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, Charlotte, N.C.

In March, Duke took out an option to buy 160 acres on which to build a natural-gas fueled 640-megawatt electricity generation plant. The land, which is adjacent to a Kansas Power and Light substation, is about four miles north of Jarbalo, or about 10 miles north of Tonganoxie.

Currently, Duke is seeking air and water permits from the state.

"There's more than one potential snag, from the state level all the way down to our local county level," Carlson said. "If anybody thinks it's a done deal, then they are of very false assumption."

For example, Carlson said, Leavenworth County zoning regulations have no provisions for a power plant.

Last Thursday, when the Leavenworth County Commissioners approved the county's comprehensive plan, a step was taken to fix that, said John Zoellner, the county's director of planning and zoning.

"The commissioners added to our plan a proposal that would allow electric generating facilities to be anywhere in the county in the proper industrial or planned unit development zoning districts," Zoellner said.

Previously, he said, a power plant would have been treated as any other industrial venture and would have been included in a high-intensity use area.

Carlson explained: "If someone would have asked in what district could I put in a power plant, the answer would have been 'none,' because there's no zoning ordinances that say 'This is where you put a power plant."

The next step, Carlson said, is for county commissioners to amend the zoning regulations for the county. That will be voted on at 10 a.m. July 9.

"They will consider the zoning regulations and if they follow what they did last Thursday, the amendment to the zoning regulations will say power plants will be a permitted use in Industrial 2 zoning," Carlson said.

Moreover, the commission will look at amending the planned unit development regulations to say that power plants will be permitted in any area of the county, Carlson said.

A planned unit development district allows a particular use to be put on a property anywhere outside of cities in the county, Zoellner said.

"They're flexible," Zoellner added, "They can be used for a lot of different kinds of uses, but once you approve it, it's in concrete."

For instance, Zoellner said, "If they want to rezone the land for a power plant, it would be a power plant only there would not be any other industrial uses."

Such zoning requests are treated as any other rezoning, Zoellner said.

"It has to have a public hearing, the neighbors have to be notified and they go through all the steps," the planning director said. "It is an amendment to the zoning map just like any other zoning change."

Carlson reiterated that even zoning changes won't insure a power plant.

"Even after Duke announces if they announce that they've selected this site," Carlson said. "It should be some time in January. But that doesn't mean it will be a done deal then. There are all kinds of things that could happen."

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