On January 7, 2019, Verbio North America (VNA) announced that it transitioned to a new site for VNA’s renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility. The site is 144 acres owned by Charter Equities II, located 1/2 mile west of I-35, at the southwest corner of US-160 and Seneca Road.
The site is within the 3-mile zoning jurisdiction of the City of Wellington. It is currently zoned for commercial development but used for agricultural purposes. For operation of an RNG production facility, it would require rezoning to I-2 Heavy Industrial use and require a Special Use Permit. An application for rezoning will be handled by the Planning Commission of the City of Wellington. The Planning Commission provides a recommendation to and final action is taken by the Governing Body of the City. If rezoning is approved, a Special Use Permit application would be submitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals of the City for approval or denial. The final step would be the consideration and approval of a final plat and a Developer’s Agreement by the Governing Body. It is also expected that a Petition for Annexation will be submitted to the City for the property. The annexation process provided by statute will be followed with final decision by the Governing Body of the City.
A small group of City officials will be making a visit to tour two VNA operating facilities in Germany. Charter Equities, in their goal of ensuring the City had the opportunity to review the proposed operation, included in the real estate purchase agreement that the Purchaser would host selected leaders from the City at the Purchaser’s operating processing facility in Germany. The Purchaser is responsible for air travel and other expenses reasonably related to the trip. Greg Northrup, President and CEO of VNA, willingly agreed to the site visit. The City will exercise that opportunity to visit and inspect the VNA facility and talk with local city officials. The group making the site visit will be City Manager Shane Shields, Council member Kip Etter, Assistant City Manager of Utilities Jason Newberry, and Director of Public Works Jeremy Jones. The visit will be approximately a 3-day period and consist of touring two VNA facilities and meeting with local city officials to discuss and pose questions regarding the facilities and the local impact.
The City has the ability to provide utilities for this operation and there will be benefit to the City relating to utilities. The City is able to provide electric service to the site. The southern half, approximately, of the property is in the City’s electric service territory. The facility’s electric use would be a positive effect for the system and, once full operation is reached, would become the City’s largest use. The City’s water treatment facility has the operational capability of providing the 50 million gallons of water needed annually in Phase 1 and the capability of meeting the needs as the plant ramps up. Having a significant user on the east side of the city will be beneficial to the system. The city, on a recurring basis, has to flush water on the east side to maintain the correct chemical balances for the area. Having a high user of water on the east side of the system will reduce the need to flush water through the system. There is also the option that gray water from the City’s wastewater treatment plant could be used for the operations. Doing so would require
a permit from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and is being researched further for the future. Expected infrastructure needs, relating to utilities and roads, for the short term and long term for this facility and location will be finalized and agreed upon between the City, VNA, and any other entities involved.
There will be a positive economic benefit from the jobs created by this project. As per the VNA press release, during Phase 1 it is expected that 44 full time direct jobs at the plant and another 100+ indirect jobs in the local supply and value chain will be created.
The City will work with Verbio North America on this project to address all issues with the goal of seeing the project to fruition.