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Planners OK wind turbines, but will county supervisors?

KEARNEY – Wind turbines will be allowed in industrial zones if the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors agrees with a zoning board recommendation.

The Buffalo County Planning and Zoning Commission approved an amendment to zoning regulations to allow wind turbines in industrial zones at Thursday night’s monthly meetings.

The turbines could be no more than 100 feet in height, put out no more than 65 kilowatts and interested parties would have to apply for a permit before they could start building.

Denny Jorgensen, owner of Select Sprayers LLC at 3980 Imperial Ave., requested the amendment and a special-use permit for a 100-foot-tall turbine for his property. Select Sprayers is located south of the airport and Highway 30.

“It’s going to supply juice to my property,” he said of the turbine. “And what I don’t use, I’ll meter back to Dawson Public Power. We’ve always been an environmentally friendly organization.”

However, local pilots and Kearney Regional Airport manager Jim Lynaugh were concerned about the proposed turbine’s proximity to an airport runway.

Lynaugh said the turbine would be on the edge of the left-hand turning lane for pilots coming in and out of the airport, which could cause issues if during an emergency situation where pilots are trained to take a hard left.

“My fear is that if we take this to the industrial tract, we’ll have more people come to put some up,” he said.

Jorgensen’s turbine would have a red light on it, which Lynaugh and the other pilots approved, and the height could be reduced if needed.

“If you go to the airport, there’s a lot more traffic than just the commuter,” said Sean Penner, operator of Buffalo Air Services. “Do the pros outweigh the cons?”

The Board of Supervisors will take a look at the amendment and Jorgenson’s permit at its April 10 meeting.

In other business, the commission:

– Set the date for the public hearing of Buffalo County’s comprehensive plan for April 19.

– Approved a special-use permit for Carl Whitney Sand & Gravel Inc. to start a gravel pit 2½ miles south of Shelton. Neighbors of the property expressed concern about the pit’s potential effect on drainage.

– Welcomed new commission member Richard Skelton and presented plaques to former members Karin Covalt and Craig Wietjes for their services.