Monday’s nearly 3½ hour public hearing on zoning regulations nearly wrapped up without much comment on the wind turbines.
Just as Antelope County planning members began discussing closing the meeting, Invenergy’s Nate Drucker asked for clarification on regulations. More public comments followed.
Then the board reversed a previous decision on 1,000-feet setbacks for tower participants, which led to outrage from the few left in attendance.
After another half hour on wind, the hearing finally closed and the board voted 5-3 to approve sending zoning recommendations, including new wind tower setbacks, to the Antelope County Supervisors. The board opted to withdraw mention of pipeline requirements until more legal discussion can occur.
Among the regulations discussed were density of houses, including setbacks for livestock owners per animal and distances for newly constructed homes. They also approved subdivision regulations.
Still, it was the wind that brought the most discussion, beginning with medical reasons for declining a conditional use permit.
“There’s no way a condition that is unknown at the time and until after a tower is built that can be defined to eliminate that tower,” Ron Rice said.
He later added, “I don’t want to be the one sitting here saying, ‘Your medical condition is good enough, but your medical condition isn’t.’ ”
Following discussion, the board took out all mention of medical in the regulation.
The board also reviewed changes on clustering and decibel readings. It was proposed to allow two towers at 2,700 feet and four at 4,000. At the previous meeting, the straw pole was locked at 4-all to remove the outer ring at 4,000 feet. On a 6-3 straw poll Monday, the board decided to eliminated the restriction on two towers beginning at 4,000 feet.
After a brief discussion on subdivision regulations, the board returned to wind discussions after Druker asked for clarification on whether changes would be retroactive and on decommission language.
Mark Smith asked the board if they wanted a zero setback on participators. Smith said he no longer agreed with that and favored 1,000 feet.
Matt Klabenes said the concern was over those who agreed to participate but didn’t get a turbine. With no setback, a turbine benefiting someone else could legally be constructed next to a person’s house who agreed to participate.
“They could be participating and just let the power line go through and be participating,” Rice said.
He added, “If 1,000 feet is out of that, we need to put it back in there.”
Smith asked for a show of hands of who wanted to put the setback in again, and six members raised their hands.
Judy Wilcox then told the board, “I think you’re making a grave mistake. The complaints have been about the noise.” Wilcox said the board was going backward with their regulations. “You really haven’t solved any problems. The noise will be the same for people,” she said.
Dean Smith questioned why the board was protecting someone who had agreed to be a participant and wanted a tower. He questioned if there’s no sound issue, then why would protection of a setback be necessary.
“If we’re out of line and don’t know why we’re bringing it up, then why is someone receiving a monetary gain out of it and why are you worried about protecting them?” he said. “I don’t care whether they got a tower or not. They signed up, they rolled the dice and hoping they get a tower. Built it within 100 feet of their house, so you don’t have to have six of them within 2,700 feet of my house.”
Klabenes said an impact easement is possible, but also “I want it in there because I want to protect those residents.”
Per the board’s instruction, Keith Marvin of Marvin Planning Consultants will work with Zoning Administrator Liz Doerr to make the changes. They will then submit the final document to the supervisors.
If any further changes need to occur, the board can inform the supervisors during that hearing.
“Zoning regulations are a living breathing document because things change. New things come up that we haven’t thought about, and there’s a section on there about how to amend it. So it’s always a possibility,” Doerr said.
The livestock setbacks will be looked at closer in next week’s issue of the Orchard/Antlope Coutny News.The livestock setbacks will be looked at closer in next week’s issue of the Orchard/Antlope Coutny News.