July 30, 2020

Gage County Board reappoints county planning commission chairperson

Reappointment made while debate over a planned wind farm continues | By Doug Kennedy | Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 | rivercountry.newschannelnebraska.com

BEATRICE – The Gage County Board today approved the reappointment of Dennis Rosene to the county’s planning and zoning commission. Rosene, who resides near Clatonia, is the current chairman of the commission.

Five people had applied for the non-paid advisory position as the term was expiring, but board members were reluctant to select a new member while a contentious debate over wind farm regulations is in progress.

County Supervisor Matt Bauman said it was nice to see so much interest in the position.

“We seldom do….usually we’re out knocking on doors trying to get people to serve. I would make a motion to approve Dennis Rosene. Given the current circumstance where what we’re dealing with now….none of these other folks, God bless ’em for wanting to be a part of this…have served on the planning and zoning commission before”.

County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann said the applicants could be considered for other seats that come open in the future, on the commission. County Board member John Hill says those who applied were quality applicants.

“Certainly at some point in time it would be good to have one of them on there….and kind of represent the other side of planning and zoning”.

The reappointment was finalized one day before a public hearing on a proposed amendment that would increase the setback distance between rural homes and wind turbines, from three-eighths-of a mile… to one mile. NextEra Energy Resources is interested in building a wind energy operation between the Pickrell and Cortland area. That’s drawn opposition from rural property owners, who are seeking the greater setback.

NextEra Project Director, Billy Wilkins, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, briefly spoke before the county board, Wednesday. The company has three wind farms in Nebraska, including the Steele Flats Wind Farm in southwest Gage and southeast Jefferson County.

“Here’s what the landowners in Steele Flats told me….each has lived in or around the wind farm for seven years, since it was built in 2013. They’ve experienced no health problems caused by wind turbines…no significant complaints about sound. They actually complain more about the trains coming out of Steele City. Each spoke about the benefits to the Diller-Odell School system…their positive experiences working with NextEra…and were thankful for the improved roads and financial compensation for being a landowner”.

Wilkins estimated the Steele Flats Wind Farm will pay about $3.8 million in taxes over the project’s life.

The public hearing on the proposed amendment to wind farm regulations will begin at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at the Beatrice High School Hevelone Center. County Zoning Administrator Lisa Wiegand said social distancing will be important, but masks will be optional.

“We will social distance. If we meet a capacity where it’s unsafe, then we’ll probably close the room and then allow so many others to come in. We’ll determine that as we move along. Capacity should be around two hundred to two hundred fifty….based upon the fifty percent capacity”.

Prior to the wind energy regulations hearing, the Gage County Planning Commission will conduct a hearing on a permit application for an RV Campsite project, at 5:45 p.m.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2020/07/30/gage-county-board-reappoints-county-planning-commission-chairperson/