Discussion on wind energy dominated Monday morning’s Brown County Commission meeting as several residents spoke about their concerns.
Newly elected commissioner, Richard Lehmkuhl, was present, along with Commissioner Keith Olsen. Commissioner Dwight Kruse was not present.
Issues with wind energy farms taking up residence has been a concern for both Nemaha and Brown County residents. There was a recent informative meeting at Fairview, where local residents could learn more about the corporations behind bringing wind energy to town, along with rights and concerns of land owners. Several wind energy farms have been established in Nemaha County and the companies are starting to expand into Brown County. Several local rural land owners have been approached about having the large wind turbines placed on their property.
Commissioner Keith Olsen reminded local residents to not sign any agreements and get information from neighbors and those informed before making any decisions. Sheriff John Merchant also said that if residents are feeling pressured by the wind energy companies, to contact his office.
A few local residents spoke at Monday’s meeting. Matt Tedman asked the commissioners if towers could be erected without an agreement signed. Commissioner Olsen told him no.
Another resident – Ben Swinger – voiced his concerns about living next to wind turbines. He stated he had recently purchased land outside of Hamlin and spoke about the noise level of the turbines. He also had information available about land values. He offered a list of items he wanted addressed – such as decibel levels, setbacks, structure heights, wear and tear on roads and bridges, the effect of the turbines on property values, who is responsible for the removal of turbines if the project is abandoned, can medical helicopters land around the area among other concerns. Swinger encouraged the commissioners to go to a wind energy farm and experience the surroundings for themselves.
In other concerns, Kent Grimm asked if the wind energy company could start erecting towers without permission. County Attorney Kevin Hill said the county is working on the Conditional Use Permit and that actual construction could not happen until these are signed. Time wise – construction would not happen until the end of the year and negotiation for the permits will happen this summer. Setbacks can take place in the Conditional Use Permit.
Also included in the Conditional Use Permit was discussions on whether road and bridge agreements would include money going to townships. The commissioners also urged any land owner with concern to contact them.
Wind energy company officials are expected to meet with commissioners at the regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 28.
In other business:
* District Judge James Patton administered the oath of office to elected official Richard Lehmkuhl.
* Sheriff John Merchant reported there are 16 inmates in the county jail, 15 males and one female. Merchant updated the commissioners on an arrest made in Brown County concerning stolen property. Merchant stated that the community did a great job of reporting issues surrounding the incident. Merchant stated that he was asked to speak about the emergency response on the wind farm. He is researching some of the issues.
* Brown County Clerk Melissa Gormley reported to the commissioners on the annual bids. Gormley stated she will be sending out the hay bid and the oil bid. Bids will be opened on Feb. 28. Gormley told the commissioners that a van will need to be rented for the Extension Office in February.
* Nick Aberle was present to discuss the fire department procedure that he asked the commissioners about at the previous meeting. Aberle spoke with fire personnel and has an understanding of the procedures. Sheriff Merchant explained the dispatch procedures.
* Commissioner Olsen stated the commissioners do not control the value of your taxes. That is through the state. He does not want people blaming the commissioners for their taxes.
* Motion by Keith Olsen to approve the 2019-2020 Liquor License for the Country Cabin. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried.
* Motion by Richard Lehmkuhl to approve Emergency Vehicle Permits for Lucas Linden and Cody Nuss. Seconded by Keith Olsen. Motion carried.
* Tax change orders 2018-27, 2018-29 through 2018-31 and 2018-34 were approved and signed.
* Commissioner Lehmkuhl stated he would like a prayer to be recited before every meeting. He will contact someone to be at the meetings.
* Motion by Keith Olsen for a 10 minute executive session on non-elected personnel with the two commissioners, Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill and Brown County Clerk Melissa Gormley present to discuss personnel matters of non-elected personnel with executive session necessary to protect privacy interests. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Closed at 9 a.m. Opened at 9:10 a.m. No binding action taken.
* Motion by Keith Olsen for a 10-minute executive session on non-elected personnel with the two commissioners, Yvonne Murrow, Appraisers Office and Brown County Clerk Melissa Gormley present to discuss personnel matters of non-elected personnel with executive session necessary to protect privacy interests. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Closed at 9;26 a.m. Opened at 9:36 a.m. No binding action was taken.
* Commissioner Olsen stated that he contacted Jim Hills Window Company. They will be here this spring to replace windows.
* Motion by Keith Olsen to adjourn. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried. The meeting adjourned at 9:52 a.m. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 22.
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