Supervisors Approve Windtower Setbacks

From Our Friends At The Neligh News & Leader

The setback distance for homes near wind towers in Antelope County will increase for non-participating landowners following the Tuesday, Oct. 6, Board of Supervisors meeting.

The public hearing regarding wind tower regulation updates was opened at 9:30 a.m.

Four supervisors, Jerry Schwager, Neil Williby, Greg Koinzan and Charlie Henery, (Merlin Bolling, absent; LeRoy Kerkman, abstain; Ed Schindler, no) voted to follow recommendation of the Antelope County Planning Commission to increase the setback of wind towers to a total of 2,000 feet from non-participating residents.

As the hearing opened, Chairman Jerry Schwager asked for comments regarding the zoning regulations for the towers.

Rick Schuchardt of Elgin presented written information he had gathered after the planning commission’s meeting Aug. 2.  Schuchardt asked the board of supervisors to consider four recommendations including elimination of the use of wind tower participant and non-participant; establishing a setback of one-half mile (2,640 feet) for all residences; require a flicker study on all inhabitable dwellings and establish and regulate noise produced from Antelope County wind tower facilities to include an average night-time noise of 35 decibels from sunset to sunrise and  50 dB from sunrise to sunset.

Several county landowners spoke during the hearing along with James Williams, Invenergy representative.

Invenergy is currently in the planning process for a fourth wind tower project in Antelope County. The proposed Upstream Wind Energy Project will be located north of the Neligh area and is expected to produce 200 plus megawatts with approximately 100 turbines. The wind farm will stretch north of Highway 275 into Pierce County as well.

Kathy Schultz of rural Clearwater, a landowner in the Upstream Wind Energy Project area, said she has been to the planning commission hearings and is negotiating a contract to have a wind tower on her property.

Schultz said, “The windtower people have been very easy to work with.” She said everyone needs to put their requests in the contract and said one of her neighbors is opposed to the turbines. She told the supervisors, as part of her contract, she specified a tower not be located near that neighbor’s home.

Gary Borer, a homeowner near Elgin who has spoken against the wind turbines several times at past meetings, asked if anyone has ever measured the decibel level produced by the operating windtowers at the Prairie Breeze wind farms.

Current Antelope County zoning regulations state the decibel level of the towers must be 50 dB or lower.

Williams said a sound analysis was completed by a third party in regard to the Prairie Breeze towers located near Elgin and Petersburg, prior to construction.

Char Carpenter, Antelope County zoning administrator told the audience and board that a sound study was not completed following construction, however.

In other matters:

• the board opened bids for a motor grader.

The board voted to purchase an all-wheel-drive Caterpillar motor grader from NMC  in the amount of $288,350. Half of the total purchase price will be paid up front with the balance financed at two and one-half percent interest through CAT financing

• approved an extermination contract with O’Neill Pest Control

• held discussion on a mailing machine and the matter was tabled until February

• heard a tuckpointing proposal for the courthouse building from Karr Tuckpointing

• tabled an agreement on the Blue Cross Blue Shield dental resolution until Oct. 13

• reviewed four applications for the road boss position. Interviews will be held Nov. 3

• heard information regarding the county extension office resolution presentation  for the new office manager and a request that the employee status of Tessa Hain be changed from an hourly employee to a salaried employee.

Antelope County Clerk Lisa Payne said she has contacted Nebraska Intergovermnental Risk Association and will report back to the board on their recommendation of the change in employee status

• signed a contract for the sheriff’s office agreement with the Village of Clearwater

• Decided to hold a public auction to sell the old jail building and museum.

Clerk Payne will contact three auction companies, as requested by the board, to obtain rates for selling and will bring the information back to the Oct. 13 meeting.