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Webster County OKs key permit for wind farm

RED CLOUD – A wind farm proposed for development across Webster County’s midsection came a big step closer to reality Tuesday with approval of a conditional use permit by the county Board of Commissioners.

Board members conducted a public hearing on the permit application and then discussed the matter Tuesday afternoon, before tendering a 5-0 vote favoring the Cottonwood wind farm.

Around 40 people, including an entourage of the developer’s representatives, attended the hearing in the courtroom at the county courthouse in Red Cloud.

Both support for and opposition to the proposal was plentiful, and the meeting included back-and-forth between project representatives, county officials, supporters and detractors.

Proponents of the wind farm proposal say it represents a good opportunity for Webster County to increase its tax base and stimulate the local economy.

Opponents, many of whom live in or near the project area, say the giant spinning turbines will alter the landscape, detract from their quality of life, and perhaps endanger their health and property valuations.

“Thank you all for coming,” said Keith Buschow of Blue Hill, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, as the Webster County courtroom emptied at the end of the 2 1/2-hour session. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way everyone wanted. Hopefully it’s for the best of the county.”