The public will have an opportunity to share comments and concerns during a special meeting Tuesday night regarding wind turbines constructed in Gage County.
The Gage County Board of Supervisors will hold a two-hour public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Holiday Inn Express in north Beatrice from 6-8 p.m.
County Board Chairman Myron Dorn said Tuesday’s hearing will be the first of three anticipated hearings where the public can contribute to the ongoing wind energy discussions.
“The process after that is our zoning board will advertise for a public hearing, and they’ll forward their recommendation on to us, and our board will have a public hearing,” he said. “These are proposed changes. The zoning board could make adjustments to these when they forward them to us and we as a county board still could make changes.”
Proposed changes include specific definitions of participating and non-participating landowners, in addition to general setback and design standards, which under a current proposal would be 3/8 mile or four times the total height of the tower from any residence in a non-participating property.
Current platted subdivisions approved prior to Sept. 1 would have a minimum setback of 1/2 mile from the turbine to the property line, under one proposal.
Subdivisions plotted after Sept. 1. would have a minimum setback of 3/8 mile or four times the tower height, whichever is greater.
A complete list of wind energy regulations and proposed changes can be found on the homepage of the county’s website at www.gagecountynebraska.us.
The discussion of wind farm regulations has been ongoing for months and is the result of joint meetings with Lancaster County officials first held in March, where issues from setback requirements and noise levels to health concerns were discussed.
Supervisor Matt Bauman has remained adamant that Gage County does not intend to mirror regulations adopted by Lancaster County.
“They are not going to mirror Lancaster County’s,” Bauman said. “I appreciate the effort that Lancaster County made to involve us in the process … but there was this urban legend that we’re just going to do whatever they do.”
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.
Gage County’s wind turbine regulations haven’t changed since they were set in 2010.
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