Wind-related recommendations of the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission were approved by Ellis County commissioners at Monday night’s meeting.
In 2-1 votes, commissioners Dean Haselhorst and Swede Holmgren voted to approve the planning commission’s recommendations changing the required setback distance from 10 times the tip height to 1,000 feet and also eliminating regulations for noise levels.
Haselhorst said he thought Ellis County should have setbacks similar to those of other Kansas counties, noting, among others, that Lincoln County has no setbacks and Butler County has 1,000-foot setbacks. Commissioner Glenn Diehl dissented, citing a manual of safety regulations for operators.
“It says do not stay within a radius of 1,300 feet from the turbine unless it is necessary,” he said. “This is from a manufacturer of a wind turbine that is now operating across the world.
“It’s our job to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens of Ellis County, and when we OK regulations that are not safe according to the wind turbine manufacturer themselves, I’m opposed.”
On the issue of noise management, Haselhorst quoted a Department of Energy study stating there are no human health issues caused by wind turbine sound. Diehl disagreed and said he thought “we are going to be having a lot of problems if we don’t have any kind of standards.”
Holmgren, who said he agreed, in part, with both Haselhorst and Diehl, said, “I think if we start to try to regulate noise now … we’re going to have to tell Union Pacific they can’t blow their whistles when they come through town.
“Eleven trains a day come through, and they’re blasting their horns all the way through town and they’re certainly louder than this.”
Commissioners also voted 2-1 to reduce the notification and protest petition area from 2,000 to 1,000 feet.
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