Lancaster County residents will get a chance to comment Tuesday on proposed regulations for commercial wind farms.
Although companies have inquired about building commercial wind farms near Hallam and in the northern part of the county, there are no projects on the drawing board at this time, said Mike DeKalb, a planner with the City-County Planning Department.
A public hearing on the proposed regulations will be held during the county board’s Tuesday meeting set to begin at 5 p.m. on the first floor of the County-City Building.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved them last month.
The City of Lincoln, because of its three-mile zoning jurisdiction, is proposing matching regulations and will hold its own public hearing after the county board takes action, DeKalb said. No date has been set.
The proposed regulations apply to wind turbines with a generating capacity of more than 100 kilowatts.
DeKalb said they do not apply to smaller wind turbines on homes, acreages and farms, which have a different set of regulations, adopted by the county in 2008.
The Planning Department worked with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, Lincoln Municipal Airport, Lincoln Electric System and the county engineer and county attorney’s office and others to develop the proposed regulations. Here are some of the highlights:
* Commercial wind turbines can be built only in an agricultural district by special permit.
* Each wind turbine shall be no less than 1,000 feet from any property line of a dwelling not associated with the project.
* Wind turbines shall meet all Federal Aviation Administration requirements, including but not limited to lighting and radar interference issues.
* Noise levels caused by a wind turbine shall not exceed 35 decibels at the property line of any dwellings within a one-mile radius of a wind turbine. A noise study may be required.
* A developer shall have a decommissioning plan outlining the means, procedure and cost of removing the wind turbine(s) and all related supporting infrastructure and a bond or equivalent resource to guarantee removal and restoration.
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.
Commissioner Jane Raybould expressed concern about whether the proposed regulations addressed collisions with sandhill cranes and other migratory birds.
DeKalb replied that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District were consulted on the issue and the county is not part of the flyway used by the sandhill cranes.
However, he said, thousands of migratory waterfowl do congregate at Branched Oak Lake and any potential issues with migratory waterfowl – and even bats which are attracted to wind turbine lights – would be addressed under a special permit.
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