The Gage County Board of Supervisors is expected to hold public meetings regarding proposed wind farm regulations next month.
An exact date for the hearing where the public can share input on proposed regulations has yet to be set, though discussions have been ongoing for months in a small committee reexamining current regulations.
“Our wind farm group had a short meeting last night, have another one planned yet, but still haven’t set an informational meeting date,” said board member Matt Bauman. “That will be forthcoming here sometime. We’re still trying to narrow down our scope of where we’re going to make adjustments or changes to.
“We have an idea, but there was a lot of discussion amongst our group last night, so I know there’s a lot of discussion amongst the public, too.”
County Board Chairman Myron Dorn said the process is turning out to be a long one, in part because of how many questions the topic has raised.
“It’s taking a little longer than we thought, but we’re finding out this is an issue that a lot of people have a lot of thoughts on, on both sides of it,” he explained. “Even last night in our little group that we had, there was some really good discussion.”
The proposed changes are the result of joint meetings with Lancaster County officials first held in March that discussed everything from setback requirements and noise levels to health concerns.
“We’re looking at setbacks, how to deal with decibel levels, we’re looking at how to deal with currently platted subdivisions, the decommissioning process and single energy systems,” Bauman said. “Those are the things we’re looking at and we discussed cleaning up some of the proposals we would have at public meetings in September.”
The joint discussions were prompted by Volkswind USA after the company announced plans last September for a wind farm that would be primarily in Lancaster County, though it would also occupy around 4,000 acres in Gage County.
Officials with Volkswind have expressed concern that more strict requirements for where turbines can be placed would be detrimental, and may prohibit the project from getting off the ground.
While officials from Gage and Lancaster counties have merged efforts, Bauman reminded the board their conclusions will likely differ.
“Our regulations are not intended to mirror Lancaster County’s,” he said. “Population differences, land use differences and population density issues are different. I think just because we were in the same meeting initially I think there was an implication that we were going to mirror those. I don’t think that’s the intent.”
County Board members previously said setback requirements currently state the base of a wind turbine must be at least 1,250 feet from the nearest corner of a nonparticipating residence.
The board has previously discussed doubling the setback requirement to 2,500 feet.
Gage County’s wind turbine regulations haven’t changed since they were set in 2010.
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