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Public hearing set for Jan.5 to discuss need for county planning commission

Roger Pugh
Publisher

Canadian County Commissioners will hear comments from the public about the merits of establishing a County Planning Commission during a public hearing at 9 a.m., Saturday Jan 5 in the south side meeting room at the Canadian Valley Technical Center in El Reno.

The commissioners are considering calling a special election to establish a planning commission to help “direct orderly, coordinated physical development throughout unincorporated portions of Canadian County.” State law requires voter approval to establishment of such a commission.

If established, a county planning commission could create zoning and other development requirements for those unincorporated areas.

The proposal comes in the midst of an effort by Virginia-based Apex Wind Energy to build a series of large commercial wind farms in the county. Some opponents of the wind farms believe the commission is needed to regulate the placement and operation of those wind farms.

However, the Canadian County Commissioners will not entertain comments on the wind farms, they are there to discuss the merit of establishing a county planning commission, according to Canadian County Clerk Shelley Dickerson

2 Comments

  1. Cecil Bearden says:

    This just a knee jerk reaction due to larger landowners attempting to lease land to wind energy developers.
    Canadian county has a floodplain board to allow building near flood prone areas after proper planning & engineering is performed. This board is in existence to allow Property owners to buy low cost Flood Insurance, to prevent loss of life to inhabitants in or near the floodplains, and to prevent future exposure to first responders who must evacuate flood prone areas.
    I have served 32 years as floodplain board chairman, and 30 years as an Engineer for the state of Oklahoma. If we are to have organize a planning commission then let us do it right the first time. There needs to be regulations on both residential and commercial construction. Not only to protect landowners from being hit with materials from the disintegration of neighboring structures, but also to protect unknowing buyers from foundation problems due to the county’s expansive clay soils. All new housing must have a storm shelter, no variances. New housing construction should be required to have a finished floor level at least 18 inches above the surrounding ground to prevent foundation and water problems. Roof structures should be required to withstand a 100 mph wind including roof coverings. Outbuildings should have the same requirements. While the state health department has requirements for individual sewage treatment systems, it has no requirements for the water supply volume. Many homes have been built in the NE part of the county without an adequate water supply. A minimum flow volume of 10gpm needs to be established for residential structures.
    Before a development can be started the infrastructure should be capable of handling the influx of residents safely. One-hundred-yr flood frequency access must be available from the development to a collector route as established by ODOT. All weather access from the development to the nearest fire station must be available. A fire hydrant must be available within 1/2 mile of any development. A set back requirement for fences, trees, power and water lines must be provided in order to prevent future problems during natural disasters All fire hydrants within the county must have a standardized thread connection.
    All power lines must be built to withstand 120 mph wind and the easements should be wide enough to prevent damage to structures in the event of failure of the pole/tower.
    Manufactured housing must meet standards for insulation, tie down, electrical, and Heating and Air conditioning ( to be determined), many new homes do not last the length of the mortgage.
    Multifamily housing must have the infrastructure in place to handle the influx of residents before construction.
    Roadways need to meet ODOT standards, all roadway culverts and bridges including development access roads must pass the 100 yr frequency flood. . Every road crossing by power or water lines must be in a conduit sleeve. New developments must be required to provide storage of storm water runoff to not increase the one hundred-yr frequency runoff from the historical amount. The inundation area below dams and reservoirs in the county should be designated as a floodplain in order to prevent future expense to the both taxpayers and landowners by development below the dam.

    If a planning commission is to be developed, then it needs to be staffed with competent Engineers and technicians. This should be done not just because some of the larger landowners want to contract with a wind energy developer. If we are to have a planning commission then let’s have one that will prevent new homeowners from huge expenses in the near future, it will prevent additional responsibility on our first responders. The planning commission needs to develop its rules and regulations through input of everyone in the county, not just copying something from another county, and not just because a few do not want their “view” obstructed.
    This will enable the county to prosper, and allow the ones being governed to have a say in their government.

  2. JT says:

    Cecil,

    1. The people supporting this county planning commission could care less about 99% of the things you listed that should be requizrements in new county ordinances. These people are set on one thing, keeping out any wind farms west of Piedmont. A large wind farm was just built near Calumet, but I don’t remember any of the residents voicing these concerns. Which brings me to point 2.

    2. Over the last decade Piedmont has seen an influx of people fleeing the public schools of cities such as Edmond and Oklahoma City. I would refer to most of these people as “city slickers”. This area is still fairly rural, and now a wind farm is being proposed in the rural areas near Piedmont. These city people are horrified that the farmers would dare ruin their so called “view” by leasing their land to a wind company. I’m just a farmboy from Garfield County. A large wind farm about 14 miles in length was just built where I grew up. The residents in the area welcomed the wind farm with open arms. I guess they are just stupid country bumpkins, and didn’t realize their “view” would be ruined.

    3. A large portion of this proposed wind farm is in Kingfisher County. What will these people do when they realize they can still see the turbines across Waterloo Road from their house in Piedmont?

    4. Frankly your proposed regulations/ordinances frighten me. The amount of new bureaucracy, paperwork and hassle it would create for rural residents is enormous. How would the county pay for this? If people want what you describe above, they can move inside of the corporate limits of a city with the existing ordinances and departments to enforce those kinds of things.

    5. Consider a farmer that would like to build a simple pole barn for machinery or livestock. Would he be required to have a licensed professional engineer sign and seal the drawings for his new barn and submit them to the planning commission for approval? How much additional money and time will that cost him and at who will it benefit? It’s hardly a health/life/safety issue for a building that isn’t occupied by humans the vast majority of the time.

    6. Finally as a fellow civil engineer I’d like to address some of the things you propose.

    a. 100 mph design wind speed – Both the International Building Code and International Residential Code only stipulate a 90 mph design wind speed for Oklahoma. The 100 mph zones are much closer to the coasts.

    b. 100 yr flood frequency for collectors as established by ODOT – This is flat out incorrect. ODOT doesn’t require any road or bridge to be designed for a 100 year event. Even Federal law only requires Interstates to be designed for a 50 year event. ODOT only requires a Major Rural Collector to be designed for a 25 year storm. SH 4 from Piedmont to NW Expressway is classified as a Urban/Rural Major Collector. ODOT requires a Major Rural Arterial to be designed for a 50 year event.

    c. All power lines designed for 120 mph winds – This is insane. OG&E designs transmission lines for about a 95 mph design wind speed. This actually exceeds the National Electrical Safety Code requirement of 90 mph. I’m not even sure distribution lines have to be designed for 90 mph as they have different requirements than transmission.

    d. Easements must be wide enough to prevent damage in case of the failure of a pole/tower – This is crazy as well. The width of the easements are controlled by the blowout of the lines under extreme load cases and clearances from the lines to various objects. The height of the structure has nothing to do with the width of the easements.

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