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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Evergy agrees to changes in burial permit application

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Evergy engineers have agreed to a change on a burial permit application that would ensure that the pits used for running a power line under the road from the power plant to a substation would not be on the county's right-of-way. (Journal file photo)

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – With the engineer’s drawings and information from a local resident, the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Nov. 4, continued the discussion of whether to approve a line burial and aerial line for Evergy. They also decided to change the county’s policies on road burial permits.

Ultimately, the decision was to have Public Works Administrator Shaun West approach Evergy about redesigning the project so that the pits dug for the burial portion would not be on the county right-of-way.

In an interview on Thursday, West said that Evergy engineers agreed to the change and he is expected to bring the issue back to the commission on Monday, Dec. 11.

The permit application, which was first presented to the commissioners as a burial across Young Road and then changed to an overhead line from pole to pole on 2200 Road, turned out to be both. The permit was originally sent back to be reengineered because the utility poles were in the county’s right of way.

The permit was brought to the commission two weeks ago. According to the Evergy application, the line will run from the La Cygne power plant to a substation in Amsterdam, Mo.

There was a concern last week that the line was headed toward a solar utility installation on the Missouri side of the state line.

With the new information discussed Monday, property owner Mark Briggs told the commissioners that he had realized that the pole was going to be placed on a piece of his property. When he checked with Evergy about the location, it turned out that because there was a teardrop-shape boundary there, Evergy had thought that the property belonged to them.

Briggs and Evergy are working this out. Evergy will either have to move the location or get an easement from Briggs.

However, Energy’s application brought up an issue with Commission Chair Danny McCullough about the county needing to know more about where the lines were going after they crossed the county right-of-way.

He expressed his concern that this was putting an obligation on landowners when a line was buried or even run overhead to allow the company burying the line to use a landowner’s property.

McCullough asked what happens if the county does not allow them to put poles in the county right-of-way and the landowner doesn’t allow them to do that either. Will they sue the landowner, he asked.

County Counselor Gary Thompson agreed that could happen and a company may file a condemnation.

“I’m here for the people,” said McCullough. “That’s the world of politics, and I’m not in that world.

Thompson said there were limited eminent domain rights for utility companies.

Commissioner Jason Hightower said that the county’s role was to allow them to cross the county road and to make sure they are not putting anything in our right of way.

Commissioner Jim Johnson said that he would like to see lines that were buried under the roadway come up outside of the county easement so that they did not interfere with the county’s ditches.

Discussion was held on the ownership of the road that crosses the dam. Thompson said that the power plant owns that part of the road. He said it was complicated because the county controls the road but the power plant pays for all the work that is done on it.

Hightower said that he thought the commission should approve the burial permit subject to Johnson’s concerns.

McCullough said that he was not in favor of approving the permit.

Johnson made the motion to send it back to be reengineered with the bore pits outside of the county right of way. Hightower seconded it. It passed by a vote of 2 to 1 with McCullough voting against it.

“If we don’t stop putting stuff in our right of way, it just creates us trouble on down the road,” said Johnson. “The less activity we have in our right of way, the better off we are going to be.”

McCullough replied that if the county allows a burial permit but denies the company access for their bore pit in the county right of way they have to go to the landowner’s property and we are putting everything on the landowner.

“I feel like that is wrong of us to do that,” said McCullough.

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