'If there is a sacred place in Kansas, this is it': Barton County Commission puts in temporary ban on solar farms
BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KAKE) - Barton County residents want the county to create tougher rules for solar farms.
It comes amidst anger over plans for a solar farm that they say would hurt wildlife at the nearby Cheyenne Bottoms wildlife area.
Even amidst a drought, if you ask some Barton County residents their thoughts on the Cheyenne Bottoms, they'll rave about the wildlife area.
"It's a real special place, one of the most special," said Great Bend resident Jerry Nye said.
"If there is a sacred place in Kansas, this is it," said Great Bend resident Bryan Witt.
That's why these two and others are concerned over a potential development south of the area.
A Spanish company, Acciona, wants to build a more than $300,000,000 solar farm on land between Cheyenne Bottoms and Great Bend.
"Nobody is against green energy... (just) not in this spot, this spot is the worst idea that they possibly could have come up with," said Witt.
Wednesday the Barton County commissioner voted to send a zoning change to the planning commission that would have required any solar farm to be 6 miles from Cheyenne bottoms.
It also passed a moratorium on solar projects until the end of the year.
"Put everything on pause for a while so they can decide if the current rules are good or if they want to amend them and give land owners and proponents and opponents a chance to weigh in," Barton County Counselor Patrick Hoffman.
Residents say they would want the project at least 10 miles back and more east or west of Cheyenne Bottoms so it doesn't disrupt any birds' flight path.
"The concern is that the solar panels have a lake effect, they look like water and birds want to land on them or sometimes it's like a mirror," Nye said. "I have a picture window and birds fly into it at all times."