Lancaster County reduces regulations on wind turbines

On Thursday, the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of an amendment that would reduce regulations on wind turbines.

On Thursday, the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of an amendment that would reduce regulations on wind turbines.

The amendment will reduce the minimum distance of wind turbines from property owners who don’t want them from 5 times to turbine height to 3.5 times the turbine height, while also increasing the maximum turbine noise level to 42 decibels 24/7, up from 37 decibels at night and 40 during the day.

Commissioners who voted in favor of the amendment say recent blackouts in the county played a role in their decision.

“The catastrophic weather events of this past week only reinforced the need to move forward with clean and renewable energy sources and to quit adding to the manmade causes of climate change,” Christa Yoakum said.

“We’ve run out of time,” declared Sean Flowerday. “And if we don’t make meaningful change to replace fossil fuel generation with clean alternatives in the very near future, we are going to reap the devastating consequences of climate chaos.”

The argument against passing the amendment is the impact the reduced regulations would have on property owners who don’t want wind turbines near their land. Board Vice Chair Deb Schorr, the only county commissioner to vote against the amendment, voiced those concerns.

“To me, it’s about the prosperity of the community and the reduction of quality of life issues and the possible reduction in property tax values,” Schorr said.

David Bargen, an attorney with Rembolt Ludtke, represents roughly 200 land owners who were against the amendment, even testifying on their behalf at last week’s public hearing. He says the county is making a mistake.

“It is a significant amount of people who have invested their lives, their life savings, their futures, their retirement plans, into these properties,” Bargen said. “And Lancaster County has just said we don’t want you here. That’s what they’ve done. That’s what they told my clients.”

Schorr warns the amendment will impact Lancaster County well past 2021.

“I know this is a generational decision,” Schorr said. “The decision we make today will affect kids, grandkids, great-grandkids.”

Board Chair Rick Vest made clear that today’s vote does not necessarily mean the construction of wind turbines in Lancaster County is imminent.

“It is important to note that this does not directly authorize the building of any individual wind turbines, but will be the standard by which any special permits will be evaluated,” Vest said.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News