Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Nebraska
Northern Gage County residents won a long battle today, as the Gage County Board approved an amendment increasing the setback between wind turbines and non-participating rural homes, to one mile.
The amendment increases setback requirements from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 to one mile. Nonparticipating residents are those who do not have contracts in place with a wind company. The Gage County Planning and Zoning committee previously approved the resolution in a 6-1 vote in August, after a six hour meeting.
Kendra Monroe, of rural Cortland, said an online survey indicated residents support the setback change. The five-question survey included 555 respondents, who did not have to give their names. "Out of those 555 responses, there were 490 residents...or 88.3%...who voted in favor of the one-mile setback...and 65 residents, or 11.7%..who were okay with the current setback".
Setting clear zoning that allows communities to capture the full benefits of wind energy development without burdening residents is key to bring clean energy and new economic opportunities to rural America.
The final public hearing was held Wednesday evening for a highly-contested proposal to change Gage County’s wind regulations, effectively ending plans for a wind farm in the northern portion of the county. The proposed amendment would increase setback requirements for commercial wind turbines from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 of a mile to one mile.
It’s a controversial project…one that ultimately will be decided by the Gage County Board, if a permit application is filed. A proposed wind farm in northern Gage County could be constructed, but first, county officials will deal with whether or not the wind tower setback requirement from non-participating rural homeowners will be increased, to one mile.
A group of Gage County residents is one step closer to getting setbacks increased for commercial wind turbines after a proposal was approved by Gage County Planning and Zoning Thursday evening. The proposal, which would increase setback requirements from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 to one mile, will now be considered by the Gage County Board of Supervisors for final approval. Nonparticipating residents are those who do not have contracts in place with a wind company.
The Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend that the setback distance between wind towers and non-participating rural homes be increased from the current three-eighths of a mile, to one mile. The proposed amendment also calls for independent testing regarding sound levels produced by wind farms.
Permits for wind energy will not be accepted by Gage County after the Board of Supervisors approved a moratorium on turbine meetings during Wednesday’s meeting. The moratorium, initially proposed two weeks ago for a period of four months, was amended before approval this week and will now last for the next three months. ...A primary concern is increasing current setback requirements that stipulate turbines must be 3/8 miles from residences. The group is asking that figure to be increased to one mile.
On the agenda for the board's meeting is a moratorium that would prohibit "... all applications, installations and projects involving wind energy systems until such time that the Board has amended regulations in place to ensure the protection of the public health, safety and welfare ..." of Dakota County citizens. ...The subject of a moratorium arose earlier this year as the county amended its zoning ordinances pertaining to wind energy systems, board chairman Martin Hohenstein said.
Gage County’s Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on possible wind farm rule changes, governing tower setback and noise limits. The commission voted 6-1 to move ahead with that step, hearing from a packed county board room during a public comment period, Tuesday night. Well over 100 people attended... in the county supervisors room, an adjoining room, the hallway outside and across the hall at the county clerk’s office.
"While we understand their property rights, there's also a point where it affects our property. We also have rights on our property,"she said. "If they are too close to our property lines it inhibits our ability to build on our property. We all have different concerns. Mine is not having a tower 1,000-1,500 feet from my home, not my property line. That's too close." She brought up concerns about noise.
Faced with the prospect of a wind farm south of North Platte, county officials are considering tougher requirements to decommission wind turbines, Lincoln County Zoning Administrator Judy Clark told the county commissioners Monday. Proposed revisions have been unanimously approved by the planning commission. One provision would require a wind farm developer to post financial assurance that the turbines will be removed when that time comes.
Prairie Wind Watchers is the group spearheading the requested amendments to Gage County’s wind regulations. The group is focusing on two specific changes it would like to see made by the county. A primary concern is increasing current setback requirements that stipulate turbines must be 3/8 miles from residences. The group is asking that figure to be increased to one mile.
Madson, a member of a group called the Nebraska Coalition for Responsible Energy, said the coalition is concerned about negative health and property tax impacts of wind farms. He then asked board members to raise their hands if they had read the lease. No one did. Doug Nelson of Wayne said financially, wind turbines never pay for themselves.
By a unanimous vote Monday, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners rejected a plan for a wind power generation facility in the county. All five commissioners voted to deny a conditional-use permit for the project. The permit was sought by Hamilton County Wind, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bluestem Energy Solutions.
While officials debate if the regulations should be changed, the County Board is considering stalling permits until a decision is reached. The agenda for the board’s Wednesday morning meeting includes an item to suspend wind permits to allow for review or change of the wind regulations.
“First of all, we know that ⅜ mile is not a safe distance for a wind turbine to be placed from a home,” said Yvonne Mihulka-Poole, who lives west of Cortland. “A 500-600 foot wind turbine needs to be at least one mile from residences to provide enough protection for the people of Gage County.” The group is also asking officials to make changes to how decibel levels are calculated. ...“We have learned from other studies and other counties that some testing can be manipulated,” Mihulka-Poole said. “We need to clarify this in our Gage County regulations.”
County planners voted unanimously Nov. 19 to recommend denying Bluestem Energy Solution’s request for a conditional use permit to build a four-tower wind energy project south of Interstate 80.
“We believe the wind regulations need to be updated,” he said. “When we first did this five years ago the (turbines) were 380 feet tall. Now they’re talking 500-600 feet turbines and our 3/8-setbacks are way too close.” In addition to the setback restrictions, Allder said the amendment also changes how decibel levels are calculated.