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Public speaks on wind regulations

Area residents concerned recently-recommended wind energy regulations aren’t restrictive enough spoke at the Gage County Board of Supervisor’s meeting Wednesday.

Five people spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting, all in favor of more restrictive regulations.

Judy Daugherty, who lives in northern Gage County, told the board lenient wind regulations and the commercial operations they would allow could be detrimental to her child, who she said has attention deficit disorder.

“She does have a class at the end of the day where she can get her homework done, but she doesn’t do it at school; she waits until she gets home because it is absolutely too noisy at school for her to do that,” Daugherty said. “It’s too distracting for her. I would really hate to see what would happen if we were surrounded by wind turbines and she would have her life disrupted. I really would fear that we would have to move for her health.”

The Gage County Planning and Zoning commission settled on recommended regulations following a public hearing last Thursday. With the commission’s recommendation made, the issue is now in the hands of the County Board for approval. The board will host a dedicated public hearing regarding the proposed regulations Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Gage County Courthouse.

Michael Dekraker, who lives southwest of Cortland in northwestern Gage County, also cited concern for children as his motivation to ask that more restrictive decibel limits be considered.

“I have a son with a sensory disorder,” he said. “He just needs the quiet when he gets home to process so he can get down for the day. That’s why we moved out there. I’m not threatening the board, that’s a reality that I’m facing. If we don’t do something that is cohesive to my family, I’m going to have to find a new place to live.”

The commission’s recommendation was a limit of 60 decibels for participating landowners and 47 for non-participating landowners.

Participating properties are those under an agreement with a wind energy system company, while non-participating properties are those that are not under an agreement.

Other levels considered were 45 and 50 decibels.

The 47-decibel limit also allows for an additional 5 decibels at certain times to account for ambient sound.

Karen Meyer, another northern Gage County resident, cited property valuation concerns that could fall if wind turbines become a significant part of the skyline.

“I’m very close to retirement age and just appalled that I feel that I’m trying to fight for the value of my property,” she said. “Two various realtors have made mention that the wind turbines will decrease property value.”

Other highlights of the regulations include a pre-construction study and setback requirements of 1,650 feet or three times the total tower height, whichever is greater, from a nonparticipating property.

The complete document can be found on Gage County’s website.

Decibel levels and setback requirements have been heated issues for months as the commission reevaluates the county’s wind regulations, which haven’t been changed since they were adopted in 2010.