28 November 2017

Changes to Zoning Regulations Approved by Cherry County Planning Board

November 16, 2017. Grant County News 133(16): 1, 4.

Valentine — Several significant changes to the zoning regulations were approved by the Cherry County Planning and Zoning Board at their monthly meeting during the evening on November 7th.

Items approved by a board member vote of 6-2 were:

  • a setback of one mile from a non-participant property boundary for any turbine
  • a setback of two mile from the dwelling of any non-participant
  • a setback of three times total wind tower height from any road right-of-way or other rights-of way; and associated with this: no wind energy conversion system (WECS) shall cast any shadow flicker on any public road
  • a setback of one mile from any public conservation lands including wildlife management areas and state recreation areas
  • no WECS shall exceed 35 dba at the nearest non-participant dwelling during normal weather conditions

There were 28 people that provided testimony during the public hearing, with 18 against wind turbines in the county, and ten turbine proponents. Many of the comments made represent the many topics heard since an initial proposal for a conditional use permit for a wind turbine facility south of Kilgore, many months ago. Several people that spoke had not originally planned to speak, but after hearing comments, added their testimony to the public discourse.

An essential item not included in the tentative regulation revisions was a suggestion that there be legal documentation that a non-participant in a project has waived any setback distance(s). It was suggested that there be a “wind energy easement” filed as an official county record. No action was taken on this.

These items will be further considered by the Cherry County commissioners, probably before the end of the year.

Also approved at the meeting was a document giving a report on three items, as requested by the commissioners. The zoning board had been working on the report since January, and during this period there was a “moratorium” on any conditional use permits associated with wind turbines. The three topics were:

1) influence of wind turbines on property values
2) findings regarding a wind turbine fire and how it will be dealt with by volunteer fire departments
3) impacts on health because of operational turbines

In addition, the report identified five other “major concerns” including viewscape/landscape; wildlife protection; powerline encroachment; decommissioning of WECS; and, property rights. There was also some verbiage that the commissioners review details associated with Nebraska legislative bill 504 and testimony presented at a public hearing at Lincoln on legislative resolution 125.

This report was approved by an 8-0 vote of planning board members.

More than 50 people attended the meeting held in the county court room.

The county commissioners will also have a public hearing before voting on any permanent changes to the zoning regulations.