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Hallam residents voice concerns about proposed wind farm

HALLAM – A handful of Hallam area residents voiced their concerns Monday night about a proposed wind farm in their backyard.

They told Jeffrey Wagner, president of Volkswind USA, the wind turbines would be ugly, noisy and could harm their health.

“I think it’s going to negatively impact our property values …. It’s just not the view,” said Larry Chapman.

Many of those in attendance said they didn’t hear about the wind farm until they read about it in the newspaper. Some criticized Wagner and his company for not holding public meetings, so area residents could voice their concerns.

In an interview, Wagner said meetings with landowners were held in the area and at no time was the public excluded from those meetings.

Fifty-two landowners have already signed agreements to have one or more wind turbines on their land, Wagner told the Hallam Village Board.

The company has applied for permits to build a wind farm on 7,000 acres in Lancaster County and 4,000 acres in Gage County, near Hallam and Cortland.

Wagner said his company does not have a customer yet to buy the electricity from the wind farm, but it has submitted a bid to the Lincoln Electric System, which is looking to add up to 100 megawatts of wind energy.

He said LES will review his company’s bid, as will others, possibly from as far away at New Mexico and Texas. There also may be other bids from Nebraska.

Wagner said the company has identified 63 potential sites that would be suitable. Forty-two of those sites are in Lancaster County. Each wind turbine would be 436 feet tall.

The company said the project, estimated at $150 million to $190 million, would bring more than 200 construction jobs and about $700,000 in total tax benefits annually to both counties.

But there was little talk of economic benefits at the meeting.

Although Wagner said each turbine would be no closer than a mile and a quarter from a dwelling, some residents said that was not far enough.

Maurice Lange, another area resident, said he didn’t think a wind farm belonged between Lincoln and Hallam and in an area sprinkled with acreages.

“I don’t oppose the project, but I don’t want one (wind turbine) that’s close to my house,” Chapman said. “Nobody’s going to want to buy that acreage.”

Wagner plans to hold an informational meeting with landowners at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Hallam Village Hall, and he invited neighbors to attend.