Advocates and opposers testify about wind turbine regulations

Proposed amendment would increase maximum allowed wind turbine decibel noise, decrease minimum distance from private property.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Thursday, proponents and opposers of an amendment that would cut back on wind turbine regulations testified in front of the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.

The proposed amendment to the Lancaster County Zoning Regulations would increase the maximum amount of wind turbine noise permitted by the county to 42 decibels. Currently, the county allows a max 40 decibels of turbine noise during the day (7 am to 10 pm) and a max 37 decibels at night (10 pm to 7 am).

The amendment would also decrease the minimum distance from non-participating wind turbine lots from 5 times the turbine height to 3.5 times the turbine height.

For example: Today, the closest a 400-foot turbine could be to non-participating private property would be 2000 feet away. The proposed amendment would reduce that minimum distance to 1400 feet.

Opposers of the amendment say they are concerned about the effect wind turbine noise will have on their property values.

“I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me, it’s the property value,” Kramer property owner Kurt Oates said. “We’ve been out there for 24 years, and from the studies I’ve seen, having wind farms close to your property can reduce values 25 to 50 to 60 percent”

Larry Allder of Cortland says the amendment is not fair to property owners.

“Would you build your dream house 1750 feet from a 500 wind turbine? The answer would be no,” Allder said.

Advocates of the amendment say loosened regulations will promote sustainability and clean energy, while providing economic opportunities for people in Lancaster County.

“Every zoning regulation is an imposition on private property rights,” attorney David Levy said.

“Righting regulations that encourage wind energy production is not only the best way forward, it could quite possibly be our only way forward,” Hub Cafe owner Doug Dittman added.

Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez was one of the first to testify. She says the health department did not have enough information to advise a change.

“With the situation going on with the pandemic, we haven’t had the opportunity to review in the depth that we would need to so I think our recommendation stands,” Lopez said.

Attorney David Bargen, who represents a group of Lancaster County property owners opposed to the amendment, says his clients feel the process is being rushed.

“It’s the process, the speed, the unfairness of it, but also the concerns about the noise standard, and also that there’s no support from the health department to change these standards.”

The Lancaster Board of Commissioners will vote on the proposed amendment next Thursday, February 18 at 11 am.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News