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Commissioners approve wind turbine moratorium

Gothenburg Leader|Barb Bierman Batie|December 7, 2022
NebraskaZoning/Planning

A contingent of citizens worried about a company seeking leases for a potential wind farm in the Sumner, Eddyville and Overton area spoke during the citizens comment portion of the Dawson County Commissioners meeting Nov. 15. A total of five residents talked about the negative impacts wind turbines would have on the land, environment, neighbors, county roads and taxes. ...Commissioners opted to approve the moratorium on a 4-0 vote to allow the Planning Commission time to review current zoning regulations.


A contingent of citizens worried about a company seeking leases for a potential wind farm in the Sumner, Eddyville and Overton area spoke during the citizens comment portion of the Dawson County Commissioners meeting Nov. 15. A total of five residents talked about the negative impacts wind turbines would have on the land, environment, neighbors, county roads and taxes.
 
Videos taken near wind turbines in Webster County near Blue Hill showed how residents who weren’t benefiting from the leases were dealing with flicker and vibrations in their homes. It was noted when the wind blew more than 15 mph people reported a constant swish as well.
 
Patrick Martin of Lexington cautioned that when the turbine companies offer tours they are often at …
... more [truncated due to possible copyright]
A contingent of citizens worried about a company seeking leases for a potential wind farm in the Sumner, Eddyville and Overton area spoke during the citizens comment portion of the Dawson County Commissioners meeting Nov. 15. A total of five residents talked about the negative impacts wind turbines would have on the land, environment, neighbors, county roads and taxes.
 
Videos taken near wind turbines in Webster County near Blue Hill showed how residents who weren’t benefiting from the leases were dealing with flicker and vibrations in their homes. It was noted when the wind blew more than 15 mph people reported a constant swish as well.
 
Patrick Martin of Lexington cautioned that when the turbine companies offer tours they are often at the time of day when shadows or flicker are reduced and added they can be switched to run on electricity to make them quieter. Overton resident Trace Turecek noted, “Calling these wind farms is a bend on the term farming. These are related to money. You need to do what’s morally right and question the standards.”
 
Gary Burman, who lives southeast of Sumner, noted he moved a few years ago to his grandparent’s property and has done considerable work on the home there. He reiterated the sound, noise and visual concerns. “The wind company acknowledges there can be problems. This will impact us for decades as these are 40-year leases. On behalf of all participating landowners please consider the moratorium.”
 
Matt McTygue then appeared to discuss a proposed resolution placing a one-year moratorium on locating wind turbines in Dawson County. “This would allow the zoning board time to review possible changes to county zoning regulations,” said McTygue. “This proposed project is causing a lot of controversy. A one-year moratorium would prevent them (the wind energy company) from coming in and filing for a conditional use permit.”
 
He called the size and logistics of the proposed project “a nightmare.” Based on conversations with landowners who had been approached to sign leases, the project starts southeast of Sumner and goes 16 miles following the ground contour. “This will affect two communities and multiple rural homeowners and residents. Whether or not this project goes through it’s not going away and there will be another one down the line,” said McTygue.
 
In researching ways to approach a moratorium, McTygue said every single county he has talked to told him to “make sure all your ‘i’s’ are dotted and ‘t’s’ are crossed. This company is one of the world’s largest and they are used to getting their way.”
 
To date six Nebraska counties have enacted moratoriums on wind farms. He said Gage County was the first to put in a moratorium and based the proposal given to the commissioners on their resolution. “I wouldn’t be here today if this wouldn’t be right in my backyard. Please consider this. I cannot stress the urgency. I am offering you a tool today to keep them (the company) from getting their foot in the door.”
 
The resolution notes “the likelihood of wind farms in Dawson County is probable and the Dawson County Board of Commissioners desires to review regulations which are appropriate for the county and its residents. The Dawson County Planning Commission shall be directed to review the county zoning regulations and to then make specific recommendations for changes to the county zoning regulations dealing with wind energy before accepting, granting or recommending a conditional use permit for construction of wind turbines.”
 
Deputy County Attorney Katherine Kuhn advised against passing the moratorium as it could potentially open the county up for legal action by the wind company. “There is an amendment on the books for zoning regulations regarding wind turbines. This moratorium could also be seen as trying to fix a zoning issue without going through the zoning process.”
 
Commissioners opted to approve the moratorium on a 4-0 vote to allow the Planning Commission time to review current zoning regulations.
 
In a related matter commissioners approved several zoning fee adjustments. These included new fees for solar energy panels and wind turbines. The new fees will be $1,000 per wind turbine or solar panel.
 
County Zoning Administrator Pam Holbrook noted the fees apply only to commercial projects, not private projects. In addition, a $300 fee for a conditional use permit, plus publication costs will be charged. Zoning fees for conservation easements will also increase to $300 plus publication fees.

Source:https://www.gothenburgleader.…

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