OLATHE, Kan. — Next month the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will once again review proposed regulations for utility-scale solar projects within the county. 

On Tuesday, the Johnson County Planning Commission reviewed several items sent back to the commission following the BOCC special meeting in April. The commission has largely rejected the BOCC’s requests to expand the maximum size of a project area, decrease the buffer between solar farms and city limits, and increase the permit life for solar projects.  

Updated recommendations

Provisions have been added to the planning commission’s recommendation requiring solar project developers to buy specialized fire safety equipment for local fire departments in case a fire were to break out at one of the solar facilities.

The commission voted for a 20-year conditional use permit (CUP) that would allow for a one-time automatic extension if the project remains compliant. In April, the BOCC requested the commission consider a 25-year CUP with an automatic five-year extension. 

The commission is recommending adding language that proposed off-site electrical transmission lines may be reviewed as part of the overall CUP application for utility-scale solar projects. 

The planning commission will also stick with its original recommendation for solar projects to be 1,000 acres in size, despite the BOCC request for a maximum project area of up to 2,000 acres.  

The BOCC requested the commission consider a 1.5-mile buffer between solar projects and established city limits. The planning commission voted for its original recommendation to require at least a 2-mile buffer.

The BOCC will review the new planning commission recommendations during a special meeting at the Embassy Suites in Olathe, on Monday June 6 at 2p.m. 

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