The horizon of northern Barton County will change in the coming months after the Barton County Commission Monday morning blessed Midwest Energy’s plan to erect a 350-foot comminations tower north of Susank.
Commissioners OKed a conditional-use permit for the project. But, due to the height of the tower, Midwest now must gain approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration. The company must then provide proof of this federal endorsement to county officials.
On Jan. 9, the Barton County Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider the application submitted by Midwest, said Zoning Administrator Judy Goreham. The site, about two and a half miles northwest of Susank, is zoned as agricultural district and a communications tower is listed as a conditional use.
The Planning Commission recommended request be approved, Goreham said.
Under the terms of the permit, Midwest now has sixth months to break ground, Goreham said. She has been advised that plans are to begin late this spring or early this summer.
This marked the forth time Midwest Energy has approached the commission with tower requests, Goreham said. The last three were in 2016.
But, the first three were all under 200 feet tall. “This (last one) is different,” she said.
Since it is taller and requires costly federal regulatory approval, the power utility want the county’s nod before proceeding.
Goreham said the extra height is needed so Midwest can reach into Russell County and into Great Bend.
Popp said this structure will sit on a 400-square-foot plot one mile north and one and a quarter mile west of Susank on the north side NE 200 Road. Midwest owns the plot.
The tower and all the guy lines supporting it will be contained within the 400 square feet, Popp said. If it falls over, it would straddle property lines.
However, the parcel is surrounded by pasture land. There are no structures that would be damaged if it toppled over, and it would not cross the township road.
“It is pretty much in the middle of no where,” Goreham said.
Nonetheless, she said the company’s insurance would cover any expenses if there was damage. It will also be responsible for future removal of the tower if that becomes necessary.