Members of the Adams County Planning and Zoning Commission are looking to change the county’s wind energy regulations.
While they couldn’t take action on the changes during their regular meeting Tuesday because the changes to wind regulations was presented during the staff report, the board discussed changes proposed by a committee of commissioners: Chairman Dean Rolls, Bob Hansen, Mike Allen and Ken Lukasiewicz.
The county started discussing in December 2017 changes to wind power regulations.
The commission formed the committee to look at updating wind regulation during its August meeting.
Zoning Administrator Judy Mignery provided commissioners in August with the existing Adams County regulations as well as regulations from Custer, Merrick, Lincoln, Antelope and Knox counties.
Wind regulations for all those counties are pretty similar.
Adams County small wind energy systems regulations limit tower heights at 80 feet for properties between half an acre and one acre.
Adams County regulations state maximum heights shall be determined by the fall zone and shall not exceed 100 feet. No other counties included here have that requirement.
All the counties also have similar regulations for commercial wind energy systems.
However, towers in Adams County shall not exceed 300 feet for the tower and 400 feet for the entire structure.
Hastings attorney Mike Sullivan spoke on the issue at the commission’s August meeting, representing Omaha firm Bluestem Energy Solutions.
He said most commercial towers are 500 feet or more. Even a taller height restriction soon could be obsolete.
Any wind power project would require a conditional use permit and be taken on a case-by-case basis and would require county approval.
Changes proposed by the committee eliminate the height restriction.
Among other recommended changes was a volume restriction of 50 decibels, down from 60 to be consistent with the other counties surveyed.
Also proposed was increasing the setback distance from neighboring dwellings from 1,000 to 2,400 feet.
“I guess what we’re looking for more than anything else is if everybody’s comfortable with the regulation and the way it’s written here,” Rolls said about the proposed changes.
The committee members did not want to dictate to the rest of the commission, he said, what action should be taken.
Mignery also brought up a regulation in Antelope County limiting the number of towers around non-participant property.
Dave Bergin, deputy Adams County Attorney, recommended, from a legal standpoint, keeping the regulation as simple as possible. But if that’s a concern for the commissioners they should include it because they’re the policy holders.
“What I’m saying is that it might be better to keep it as simple as possible and then if that became a problem in the future then you could change it,” he said.
The commissioners also discussed adding requirements restoring public infrastructure to preconstruction state as part of the decommissioning process.
Mignery said including that requirement as part of the conditional use permit would be the best fit for that.
She will make changes to the requirement and present them for approval at the Oct. 1 meeting. If there are additional changes commissioners could be made by formal amendment then.
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