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Unicameral to hear bill that would limit ‘wind farms’

The Legislature’s public hearing schedule for the coming week includes a measure that would limit “wind farms” to counties that have passed zoning regulations to govern them.

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Friday will hear Legislative Bill 424, introduced by state Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1507 of the State Capitol.

Like other public hearings on Unicameral bills, LB 424’s hearing will be livestreamed by Nebraska Educational Television via nebraskalegislature.org.

The bill’s “statement of intent” by Brewer. who also is the committee’s chairman, says LB 424 would “increase the voice local citizens have in the process counties use to authorize the construction of industrial wind energy projects in their county.”

Four of Nebraska’s 93 counties continue to lack planning or zoning of any kind. At least five others, including Blaine County in the Sandhills, have adopted a comprehensive plan but not zoning regulations.

LB 424 would require that zoning regulations for counties where wind farms are proposed address setbacks and noise standards for wind turbines, as well as decommissioning and site restoration once turbines wear out.

Such regulations allow “citizen concerns to be heard in a public hearing,” Brewer said in his statement of intent.

“The aim of this is to help reduce the growing citizen anger over being forced to be neighbors to these massive facilities.”

In other hearings this week on bills introduced by west central Nebraska senators:

» LB 237, a Brewer bill to phase in exemptions of Social Security payments from state income taxes, will be heard by the Revenue Committee at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 1524.

» The Appropriations Committee Friday will take up LB 469, Bayard Sen. Steve Erdman’s companion bill to a measure (LB 468) requiring the Game and Parks Commission to pay for property owners’ damage from game animals and birds.

LB 469 would appropriate $10 million a year for such compensation payments over each of the next two fiscal years. The committee will hold its hearing at 9:30 a.m. Friday in Room 1525.