Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Nebraska
On Wednesday night, the nine members of the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed rules on a 5-4 vote, after rolling back sound limits and doing away with a daily limit on the amount of time flickering shadows cast by turbine blades can pass over neighboring houses. ...The move disappointed Hallam and Cortland area property owners. They had wanted the noise limits to remain at 40 decibels in the day and 37 at night, numbers that were recommended by the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department.
The noise turbines make cannot be compared to other sounds, like a stream or the hum of a refrigerator, which also are around 40 decibels. “It’s more annoying to people than other sounds at the same levels,” he said. It’s unique. Multiple turbines, even if in sync, combine to make a modulating pulsing swoosh and thump, plus a whirring sound, a hum from the transformer substation and infrasound below human hearing.
The proposed regulations address noise and health issues from wind turbines, as well as setback requirements from homes and property, lighting and decommissioning of towers. Stephen Henrichsen, the department's development review manager, said comments will be reviewed before final regulations are presented to the Planning Commission for a public hearing in August. No date has been set.
Lancaster County is expected to adopt new wind farm regulations restrictive enough they may prevent future developments, and Gage County will likely follow suit. The County Board of Supervisors discussed regulations at its regular meeting this week. The proposed changes are the result of joint meetings with Lancaster County officials first held in March.
"Our concern is that they're trying to place them quite close to our homes and we were worried about the sound that's emitted by them," Cindy Chapman said. She is a member of a coalition against Volkswind. Current zoning laws say the turbines must at least 1000 ft away from the property line of any home not involved in the project. It also requires they not exceed noise level of 35 decibels.
Proposed noise rules being drafted to regulate commercial wind turbines in Lancaster County are so restrictive they would effectively prevent wind projects being developed here, according to a Portland, Oregon-based company that wants to develop a 50-turbine farm in Lancaster and Gage counties.
The Platte County Board of Supervisors has yet to give its support to a wind farm project that is already underway south of Creston. On Tuesday, the board tabled a resolution of support and county road agreement with Bluestem Energy Solutions.
Stephanie Hamel, who lives near Rosemont and would have a turbine tower within 1,500 feet of her home, said she is getting nothing from NextEra but will live with the impacts of its project for the next 30 years or more. “I ask you to put yourself in my situation and ask yourself honestly what you would do,” Hamel said, addressing the commissioners. “Lonnie said he wouldn’t want to live in the project area. Would you guys?”
Setback requirements, shadow flicker, ice thaw and health issues were all concerns raised during the first in a series of meetings concerning wind farm regulations.
Planning and Zoning officials from Gage and Lancaster counties will be working together as they reexamine each county’s regulations for wind farms.
A proposed wind farm that would cover a portion of northern Gage County prompted the County Board of Supervisors to review setback requirements during Wednesday’s meeting. Volkswind USA announced plans in September for a wind farm that would be primarily in Lancaster County, though it would also occupy around 4,000 acres in Gage County.
Jeffrey Wagner, president of Volkswind USA, said his company pulled the application at the request of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department. "They thought it would be better to have some more public engagement," Wagner said.
NextEra Energy Resources says construction of the Cottonwood Wind Project will start as soon as the company signs a long-term power purchase agreement with the Nebraska Public Power District. ...NextEra, headquartered in Juno Beach, Florida, would like to begin construction next spring and complete the project by the end of 2015.
DeKalb told the county board at its Thursday staff meeting that wind developers are eyeing the county because of its power transmission infrastructure and not because it has the most desirable wind potential. He said the county is close to large population centers and served by major utilities.
The council frowned on putting the micro and small wind turbines on standard-sized housing lots. "I can tell you if someone in my subdivision put one right up next to me, I would not be happy, neither would probably my neighbors," said Council President Peg Gilbert. She equated the wind turbine issue to satellite dishes back in the days when they were new technology and very large.
New Grand Island wind energy regulations did not breeze through city council approval Tuesday night. Instead, the council gave first-round approval for the new regulations and postponed further action for at least another two weeks. "I want more input on it," said Councilman John Gericke, who voted against taking final action on the proposal Tuesday night.
Wind-powered electricity generation will now be allowed in Buffalo County with a special-use permit. The Buffalo County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the county's zoning regulations in a regular meeting Tuesday morning to allow wind turbines in agricultural and ag-residential zoning after obtaining the permit.
Stahr said counties' interest in regulating wind power picked up after two events last spring. First, the state's first commercially developed wind project, Elkhorn Ridge near Bloomfield in northeast Nebraska, went online in March. Second, the state Legislature passed a bill in May enabling net metering, which allows residents who generate their own power to sell the excess back to public utilities.
Larry Walth thought he was seeing green when he put up a small wind turbine in his backyard on the edge of Wishek's city limits. ...The Walths put up the 39-foot tower with a 2.6-kilowatt turbine motor in June. Now, because of failure to conform to city zoning codes, he's been told to take it down by Friday, or face possible fines of up to $500 a day.
It's coming. Wind energy is making it's way across the country and throughout Nebraska. Now, there's a good chance it will be coming to Hamilton County. While there aren't any large wind farms in the area to date, there are some individuals in the area looking to make use of the renewable energy resource.