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Wind farm developer presses for quarry  

Credit:  By Nathan Woodside | GateHouse News Service | www.lincolncourier.com 20 September 2012 ~~

LINCOLN – The developer of a proposed wind farm in western Logan County says the already-delayed project will be severely hampered if county zoning officials don’t approve a limestone quarry operation near Broadwell.

Local attorney Douglas Muck and his sister, Kaellyn Arch, have petitioned the county to rezone a patch of land just west of Interstate 55 near the intersection of 1400th Street and 900th Avenue to make room for Hanson Materials Service to extract limestone.

Two families who live and farm near the property have filed objections to the petition, citing a myriad of concerns.

They fear extra truck traffic will create safety hazards and added that dust in the air will be harmful to their families’ lungs.

Blane Olson is one of the objectors.

“What’s that going to do to the quality of life at our homes there?,” he said. “We have an asthmatic son. Is he even going to be able to be outside on our property? Maybe it won’t be an issue, but there’s surely a chance that it will.”

He expressed his worry about the land, saying he bought the home six years ago to farm and raise a family there.

However, Stan Komperda, project manager of Sugar Creek Wind Farms, says that if the quarry isn’t allowed to function, the project will be challenged. The availability of limestone was a big reason his company chose Logan County to invest in wind energy.

“The proximity of a working quarry to the project was a big plus in our decision making process and added trucking costs to quarries that are farther away can only add to project financing burden,” Komperda wrote in a letter to Logan County Board Member Dr. David Hepler. “If higher construction costs result due to lack of local stone, this can impact projects negatively an potentially decrease the size of the project which would reduce long term payments to landowners and the county via WTG taxes.”

Wind farm construction was originally slated to begin in 2013, but a lack of energy demand and financial infeasibility pushed the project back to 2014.

Permit fees and taxes would be a boon to Logan County.

“It probably is the most important economic development initiative that we’ll encounter in a decade,” Hepler said. “We’re looking, potentially with Sugar Creek 1 and 2, at 200 wind towers, which is more than $2 million in permit fees right up front as well as all the property tax revenue that not only goes to the county, but also the school districts. This will be a blessing to them.”

Hepler said wind farms could help keep the smaller school districts operational.

Komperda said his company would use between 300,000 and 450,000 tons of limestone aggregate in the first phase of Sugar Creek alone.

“If (Sugar Creek) is able to save several million dollars in construction costs by being able to access aggregate in their back yard, that could be the difference in a project making sense or not.”

The issue will be heard by the Logan County Board of Zoning and Appeals in November at the earliest.

Source:  By Nathan Woodside | GateHouse News Service | www.lincolncourier.com 20 September 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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