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Grand Island alters new wind regulations

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.

The Grand Island City Council liked the idea of going green with new wind energy regulations, but only if going green isn't too ugly, too noisy, too unsafe or too close to the house.

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.

"People didn't like it when they ended up right next to their homes," Gilbert said.

That's why she amended the city's latest wind energy regulations to allow the residential turbines only on lots that are at least 20,000-square feet in size.

That means homes on half-acre-plus lots in Capital Heights, Le Heights, Hidden Lakes, Davis Lake and Eagle Lake could have such turbines, but most lots in central, east and south Grand Island could not.

Councilman Mitch Nickerson wanted that lot restriction even larger -- about 22,500 square feet. He said the turbine issue isn't so much a homeowner decision as it is a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Grand Island City Council liked the idea of going green with new wind energy regulations, but only if going green isn't too ugly, too noisy, too unsafe or too close to the house.

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.

"People didn't like it when they ended up right next to their homes," Gilbert said.

That's why she amended the city's latest wind energy regulations to allow the residential turbines only on lots that are at least 20,000-square feet in size.

That means homes on half-acre-plus lots in Capital Heights, Le Heights, Hidden Lakes, Davis Lake and Eagle Lake could have such turbines, but most lots in central, east and south Grand Island could not.

Councilman Mitch Nickerson wanted that lot restriction even larger -- about 22,500 square feet. He said the turbine issue isn't so much a homeowner decision as it is a neighborhood decision. He wanted more neighborhood input on turbine requests.

Councilman Bob Niemann wanted turbines not at all based on a fear of the units not being structurally sound. The city's new regulation made no requirements for continued inspections on the units or checks when a house sold, he said.

Regional Planning Director Chad Nabity said there are no such inspections required now on infrastructure in houses -- let alone on wind turbines generating electrical power.

The city has allowed wind units for 30 years. The primary change now is to withdraw a 35-feet height limit on turbine towers, Nabity said. Wind companies have stated turbines must be above buildings and tree lines to be effective and that typically means heights in excess of 40 feet.

Niemann said his employer, Central Community College, has a wind turbine 40 feet in the air on the Hastings campus. It isn't paying for itself. The unit shuts down when winds get to 35 miles per hour due to potential safety problems, Niemann said.

Councilman John Gericke wondered about non-operational units. If someone put up a wind turbine and ended up not using it, could the city order its removal?

Inspection and enforcement of turbines is really beyond the scope of the zoning regulations proposed Tuesday night, said City Attorney Dale Shotkoski.

State Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island also addressed the council and spoke in favor of wind energy. But as a renewable energy source, the technology is still in its infancy and changing rapidly he said. State and local laws will have to adjust and adapt with those technology changes.

"I'm a proponent of wind power ? but I'm not sure I'm a proponent of wind power in everybody's yard," Niemann said.

He voted against the 20,000-square feet lot requirement and joined Gericke in casting no votes against the new wind turbine regulations.

The new regulation passed 8-2 and will go into effect this summer. Similar regulations have been proposed for Wood River, Doniphan, Cairo, Alda and were already approved for Hall County.

For the record

In other action Tuesday the city council:

-- Authorized issuing $324,500 of tax-increment financing over 15 years for the Silverwood at Stolley Park retail center at South Locust Street and Stolley Park Road. Grand Island developers Ray O'Connor and Ken Staab want to build a 17,500 detached addition there. Councilman John Gericke voted no.

-- Reappointed Karl Kostbahn and Nancy Jones and appointed Rebecca Rosenlund and Alan Lepler to four year terms on the library board.

-- Approved additional groundwater monitoring wells for the Environmental Protection Agency be installed in the rights-of-way in the Hagge and Country Club subdivisions located south and east of Stolley Park Elementary School to track the migration of a contamination plume there.

-- Accept $401,000 of federal funding to complete two hike and bike trail bridges over the Platte River on the west side of South Locust Street. The city must provide $100,400 of matching funds, which were included in the 2010 budget. Councilman Bob Meyer voted no.

-- Honored Patrick Karr for 20 years of service to the Grand Island Utilities Department, Bradley Titman for 25 years of service in the Public Works Department at the wastewater treatment plant and Steven Mettenbrink for 30 years of service in the Utilities Department.

--Awarded a $88,000 contract to Tri Valley Builders of Grand Island to relocate and reconstruct the Fonner Park concession stand and restroom building to the new Veterans Athletic Field Complex.

-- Bought utility easements for the major 115 kilovolt electric transmission line improvement northwest of Grand Island. An easement on property owned by Max and Lizbeth Mader will cost $1,615 and an easement on property owned by Lloyd and Patricia Mader will cost $51,286 and includes the relocation of an irrigation well.


Source: http://www.theindependent.c...

MAY 26 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26491-grand-island-alters-new-wind-regulations
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