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Turbine use permit approved for HCC, 308

After some lively discussion about noise levels, the Hutchinson City Council on Tuesday approved a conditional use permit for Hutchinson Community College and the Hutchinson School District to erect a 5-kilowatt wind turbine atop a 90-foot tower between the track and the football practice field at Hutchinson High School.

Mayor Ron Sellers and City Council Member Bob Bush questioned Jamie Funke and Jackie Long of HCC and David Patterson of USD 308’s Career and Technical Education Academy about how much noise the turbine would make and whether it would be discernible to nearby residents.

Funke told the council that at a distance of 97 meters, about 318 feet, the noise from the turbine would be 40 decibels, which he likened to a “quiet library.” The nearest houses, he said, are more than 400 feet away, at which the sound would be “well below” 40 decibels and not noticeable over ambient noise of 50 decibels.

Bush and Sellers persisted with questions about whether the turbine could be shut off at night and had concerns that once the council approved the conditional use permit, it would be powerless to address any complaints from neighbors. But once it became clear that the other three council members – Dean Brigman, Dave Razo and Cindy Proett – were convinced the noise wouldn’t be a problem, Bush and Sellers joined in approving the permit. Sellers, however, said he was doing so because he believed HCC and USD 308 were good citizens and would address any complaints.

The council also approved a new one-year lease for Jack Sandberg to operate his Horrorwood Halloween attraction and other entertainment at the old Fun Valley water slide location at 4116 W. Fourth. However, the council did not go along with his request to amend the lease to allow him to park a semi-trailer advertising Horrorwood on the property year round. The trailer can only be parked on the site for 60 days before the event and until seven days after its conclusion.