Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Nebraska
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.
County planners tabled their review and pending recommendation on an application to build four commercial wind turbines south of Interstate 80 last week after hearing two hours of often emotional testimony from area neighbors who raised a number of concerns.
The Cherry County Commissioners made a motion to table any action on the wind turbine proposal and will take it under advisement. The board will meet next week and set a date to take action on the project.
The county’s repeated failure to adopt zoning regulations for wind energy causes concerned citizens to feel like they don’t have a voice. Ignored people quickly become angry people. They are forced to file lawsuits so they can finally be heard. LB 373 makes wind energy zoning mandatory. Creating new county zoning regulations is a very public process. It provides numerous opportunities for everyone to participate regardless of their position on the subject. No one can say their voice wasn’t heard.
Lancaster County will still have the most stringent setbacks for wind farms of any county in the state, but they will now be a little less stringent.
Vest said his goal from the beginning has been to allow for development of the wind energy project while providing as much protection as possible for those who don’t want turbines next door. "I am trying to find that balance," he said.
Vest, who wants to find a compromise on the county setback rule, which at 1 mile is among the most stringent in the state, then asked the board to put the issue on the March 19 board agenda.
Wind energy developers in Lancaster County will be required to place turbines at least 1 mile from any home that is not being paid to participate in the project. The 1-mile rule, the strictest in the state, will give homeowners some comfort and protect the quality of life in rural areas, said County Commissioner Deb Schorr.
Terry Madson is from Nuckolls County and belongs to Preserve Rural Nebraska. His county in south-central Nebraska, he said, has no zoning, and some of those that do created zoning before anyone was thinking of wind turbines. Other county zoning may not have taken into consideration escalating tower heights, larger generators, more noise and shadow flicker because of size changes. The bill gives those counties and others in the state the chance to get current, Madson said.
Rath and others who are concerned about the Nebraska Public Power District's R Project power line and the wind farms that are popping up across the land — and the whooping cranes — have found a champion in the Nebraska Legislature. Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon has taken up their cause with proposed legislation and advocacy, working from his Capitol office in Lincoln.