BEATRICE – The Gage County Planning Commission will soon consider any other potential changes that may be needed to local wind energy regulations, following the county board’s move to increase setback distance to one-mile, between wind turbines and not participating rural homes.
The commission plans to meet next Tuesday night.
Gage County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says sound levels are one of the other items that may get a second look.
“One of them was decibel levels of the actual wind turbines….there were questions on setbacks going to property line, versus structure line.”
There’s also the potential for discussion on so-called infrasound…..the effect of low-level continuing sound on people, and whether or not that presents any harmful effect. Tiemann says he’d like to see some consideration of possibly allowing wind farms in some areas of a county, but not others…based on certain factors.
“We still have the safet of the public and also population growth…that’s going to be enormous to Gage County moving forward. Our county, like every other county is looking to grow economically. To do that, you need people, and that’s always a balancing act, like everything else we do. Industrial growth, versus residential growth…where, how, when. The southern part of the county seems to be very conducive to things like wind turbines. We have a project, Steele Flats in the southwest part of the county. The northern part of the county seems very conducive to residential growth, as Lancaster and Lincoln move south.”
Tiemann says having different zoning based on area isn’t much different than that currently utilized by municipalities.
“I use the City of Beatrice for example, or any other municipality. You’re going to break that into industrial, commercial, heavy commercial, residential, residential with different restrictions. You’re not going to put a 46-plex in the middle of a single-family housing development.”
One issue local officials will be looking at is a moratorium that is still in place on permit applications for wind energy projects, currently set to expire in mid-October. Whether that remains depends partly on other regulation changes.
“If they’re looking at making additional changes, it may be responsible to extend that. If it doesn’t sound like there’s any traction to make any changes, it’s probably time to lift that. So, I would anticipate our next board meeting, that will be on the agenda for a vote to extend or not extend. If it doesn’t look like there’s any motion by P-and-Z to make any changes, I would guess we just leave it off the agenda altogether at the board meeting, and let it expire.”
The Gage County Board next meets on October 7th…a little more than a week before the moratorium is set to end.
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