(Riley County, KS – April 12, 2023) More than 90 people attended Monday’s Riley County Planning Board/Board of Zoning Appeals (PB/BZA) meeting to share their input about a proposed electrical substation to be built in the Ashland Township near Konza Prairie Biological Station. After hearing comments from the public, the landowners, and Evergy personnel, the board recommended denial of the special use authorization for the subject property to establish and operate an electrical substation at the site.

PB/BZA members cited several reasons for their recommendation. First, they said the proposal does not fit into the Vision 2025 Comprehensive Plan chapter 5, which outlines agricultural preservation and rural character. The board also agreed the location was not suitable, as it presented a conflict with the nearby Konza Prairie Biological Station. In addition, Ashland Township officials were not supportive of the project, and the substation would have an impact on the view shed.

Next, the request, including the PB/BZA recommendation, will be reviewed by the Riley County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for a final decision. Currently, the item is scheduled to appear before the Commission at the May 1 meeting.

In the request, Evergy asks for approval for a Special Use for the construction of an electrical substation (Konza Substation) on a tract of land located immediately west of the intersection of Konza Prairie Lane and McDowell Creek Road, on the north side of McDowell Creek Road. According to the applicant, the proposed Konza Substation will increase the reliability, serviceability, and load of Evergy’s electrical system in the City of Manhattan, Riley County, and surrounding areas. The new substation would contain equipment that functions as switches and breakers to allow personnel to perform maintenance on the transmission lines and substation equipment without subjecting customers to unnecessary outages.

If the request is approved by the Riley County Board of County Commissioners, Evergy’s acquisition of the property would be planned for mid-2023, with construction to begin at the end of 2024. Completion of the substation would be expected by June 2026. If the request is denied, Evergy may re-apply at a future date. There is a process in place to appeal the Governing Body’s final decision.

The BOCC meets twice a week at 8:30 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays at 115 N. 4th Street in Manhattan. Meetings are open to the public and shared on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/@RileyCountyCommissionMeetings

Courtesy photo of Courthouse Plaza East building at 115 N. 4th St. provided by Riley County