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County Board sets hearing date to talk turbine regulations

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Odell wind farm

In this file photo, turbines collect wind energy near Odell. 

Gage County residents will be able to share their concerns regarding wind energy regulations during a public hearing in two weeks.

The Gage County Board of Supervisors set a public hearing date for Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. in the boardroom at the Gage County Courthouse.

The board is considering changes previously recommended by the Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission. That group held its own public hearing in late July regarding proposed changes.

It then passed on a recommendation to the County Board, which will have final say over which changes are approved.

The County Board isn’t expected to vote on the issue following the meeting later this month, as it typically waits at least two weeks to vote to allow board members to follow up on any questions they may have.

Planning and Zoning Commission member Monte Murkle attended Wednesday’s County Board meeting to discuss the changes, and recap previous meetings.

“This request was officially brought to the commission in January 2021,” he said. “In January the commission reviewed in depth the entire portion of the regulations that pertained to wind conversion systems. In February, March and April the commission listened to comments from the public that addressed 3-4 pages of concerns and had discussions at each of those meetings.”

About 21 people spoke for nearly 90 minutes at the hearing last month, all in opposition to the proposed requirements as they are currently written, or opposed to wind farms in northern Gage County in general. No wind development supporters or wind energy companies gave testimony.

County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann commended the commission for the effort put into the regulations, which he said was a lengthy process.

“The P&Z has really gone through all this with a fine-tooth comb,” he said. “There’s some items we asked you to look at and you guys really went through the regulations and talked about all kinds of topics. Sometimes conversation spurs additional conversation. We appreciate you getting these to us.”

The document features several changes, including extending setbacks for commercial wind turbines from ½ to one mile.

It’s also being proposed to lower decibel limits by up to 5 decibels, depending on the situation.

The full 16 page document of wind regulations and proposed changes can be found on Gage County’s website.

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