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    County commissioners approve wind energy project moratorium

    May 13, 2022 - News Staff


      Julie Davis, CherryRoad Media

      The Otoe County Board of Commissioners approved a moratorium on wind energy projects in Otoe County while a committee reviews the county's current zoning regulations for such projects.

      Board chairman Jerad Sornson told the audience, which overflowed into the hallway of the Otoe County Courthouse, at the April 26 meeting that he and his fellow commissioners "haven't had much positive" from their constituents on the possibility of such projects coming to Otoe County.

      As approved, the moratorium could last as long as 12 months, depending on how long it takes the county's planning and zoning commission members, along with County Commissioners Dan Crownover and Jim Thurman, to review the current regulations and make a report to the commissioners.

      Otoe County Attorney Jenniffer Panko-Rahe noted that the current regulations were "created in a vacuum" before actual projects were submitted for review in Otoe County and the surrounding area. She said the commission can now benefit from what other communities and counties are learning from projects that are now part of the local landscape.

      Sornson told the audience that the county commissioners have announced a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at the Kimmel Ag Expo on the Otoe County Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The commissioners are not hosting the meeting, but they have announced it as a special meeting so that they do not violate the Open Meetings Act by all being in attendance.

      Thurman questioned the need for large-scale wind energy projects going forward, adding that homeowners have increasing opportunities to live essentially off the grid and generate their own power.

      During the meeting, commissioners approved updating the application for county KENO grant funds and suspended all keno funding requests until the new application is ready. Commissioners also approved the creation of an application for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that the eight villages in the county can complete to request up to $30,000 from the Otoe County ARPA funds for specific projects in the villages.

      The board did approve a $27,300 request for ARPA funds from Rural Water District No. 3 to purchase a backup generator for a booster station near Syracuse. This generator will provide backup power for not only the water district, but some of the Otoe County Emergency Management Agency's communication equipment.

      Board members also:

      Approved a subdivision plat of the Hauberg Subdivision, an approximately 3.25-acre tract located at 4317 S Rd.;

      Heard the annual Probation and Drug Court Update and approved the drug court interlocal agreement;

      Approved accepting the 2023 CB Juvenile Services Aid Grant of $48,852; and

      Awarded a bid of $63,125 to KanEquip Inc. of Syracuse for a compact track loader for the Syracuse Otoe County Roads office.

      The next regular Otoe County Board of Commissioners meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 10, at the Otoe County Courthouse.


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