Sound levels and setbacks continued to be problematic for the Antelope County Board of Commissioners when adopting changes to and approving a resolution for zoning regulations at the commissioners board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Antelope County Zoning Administrator Liz Doerr said the language needed to be more specific regarding the acoustical analysis of wind turbines to ensure compliance.
Doerr said Keith Marvin of Marvin Planning Consultants, who helped develop the proposed regulations, recommended adding required method of study using 10-minute LeQ test, as preferred by American National Standards Institute.
Commissioner Eddie Schindler asked who would assume financial responsibility of acquiring the study: the complainant, developer or the county.
Doerr said it is her job to enforce the regulations to assume compliance with county zoning regulations.
If a landowner or resident approaches her with a valid complaint and legitimate proof of noncompliance, Doerr said she would then work with the developer to help them reach compliance. If the developer refuses to comply or is uncooperative, the matter would be passed over to the county attorney to pursue litigation. Or, if the developer wishes to complete their own analysis to dispute the complaint, and the county, complainant and developer cannot reach an agreement, the issue will be passed to the county attorney to resolve or prosecute.
For this reason and others, Doerr said County Attorney Joe Abler wanted to increase the setback and eliminate the decibel limit, altogether.
“It’s expensive and it’s hard to enforce,” said Doerr.
Commissioner Charlie Henery replied, “But, we are 300 foot (sic) less.”
Doerr said, “So if you take those sound levels back out you might want to change the setbacks.”
Henery chuckled, shrugged then jokingly tossed his pen in the air.
Proposed setback distances have bounced back-and-forth a few times since beginning the update of zoning regulations. Starting at 1,500 feet from a non-participating landowner’s residence, jumping to 2,000 feet, then increasing to 2,700 feet and settling back down to 2,400 feet. The final setback distance of 2,400 feet was determined at the commissioners meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Henery said he would like to wait until Abler can advise the commissioners on how to move forward.
Also on the agenda was Josh Framel of Invenergy LLC to provide an update on the Upstream Wind Energy Project.
County Clerk Lisa Payne said Marvin advised the commissioners not take comment from the public or the developer until the regulations have been finalized.
Henery asked if the update could wait a week.
“If it’s easier, I don’t have to provide anything, but I would like you to know what’s going on,” said Framel, explaining that trucks will be arriving within the week.
Chairman LeRoy Kerkman gave Framel permission to provide the update on Upstream.
Framel said Invenergy plans to take turbine deliveries to a “central lay-down yard” at the corner of Hwy. 14 and 853 Road, one mile south of the Neligh-Pierce road.
Framel said 81 turbines will be trucked in to Neligh beginning Wednesday, Nov. 8.
No construction will begin in 2017, Framel said. Remobilizing will take place in April 2018, with project construction/completion before year-end.
Framel said the project started out with a projected 165 towers, but due to the size of the turbines which will be used and maximization of wind flow, fewer turbines may be used.
“They’re basically the same unit. They don’t look any different. G.E. just improved the technology inside,” said Framel.
During the second commissioner meeting of the mont held Nov. 14, Abler advised the commissioners approve the resolution for updated zoning and subdivision regulations, then make another motion to amend the previous zoning regulations adopted on Oct. 10, to include additional changes and correcting errors that were not caught when the first resolution passed.
In other matters:
• The moratorium on conditional use permits will be lifted on Dec. 12, providing all regulations are in place.
• The commissioners approved transferring the $200,000 ‘loan’ from road and bridge back to the general fund.
• Official wages will be discussed in December and a decision is to be made in January.