After meeting into the wee hours Wednesday morning, the Cherry County Planning Commission recommended against approving a conditional use permit for a potential wind farm in the county.
Opponents protested the wind farm before the meeting Tuesday, at which Commission Chairman George Johnson resigned, said Joel Mundorf, the county’s zoning administrator. Johnson had planned to recuse himself from the vote because his son is involved with the company seeking the conditional use permit, said County Attorney Eric Scott.
Because more than 200 people showed up at the courthouse for the meeting, it was moved to Valentine High School. Mundorf and others said the meeting went until about 2 a.m. Many people spoke for and against the wind farm; Mundorf said most spoke in opposition.
Cherry County resident Carolyn Semin heads a group that is fighting the proposed wind farm. Though early reports said the site was dry land where there would be little loss to habitat, Semin has documented an eagle’s nest, Sandhill crane migrations and goose nests. She has also reported wetlands near the area. Bob Harms, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has corroborated Semin’s reports, saying the service is also alarmed at the thought of a wind farm. Opponents fear damage to the Sandhills’ environment as well as its scenery.
The proposed wind farm would have 30 windmills, each more than 300 feet tall. The farm would take up several thousand acres of the Sandhills, Mundorf said.
Bluestem Sandhills, LLC, has not returned phone calls from the Telegraph seeking comment.