Julie Davis, CherryRoad Media
The Otoe County Planning Commission is set to host a public hearing on the county's wind turbine regulations at its next regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m.
The hearing will take place at the Otoe County Fair Center, 135 Plum St., Syracuse.
At the commission's November meeting, commission members discussed the changes they've proposed to the regulations and some of the process that went into drafting the current version of the regulations.
Commission chairman Daniel Hodges called the regulation review "a long process, but a good one." He said the subcommittee came to a consensus agreement and benefitted from the participation by Otoe County Commissioners Jim Thurman and Dan Crownover.
Also taking part in the subcommittee were Hodges, Otoe County Zoning Administrator David Schmitz, and planning commission members Cheri Wirthele and Charles Cole. Doug Delhay was the alternate.
Hodges said the subcommittee started with the existing regulations and sought input from a variety of sources, including wind turbine regulations from other Nebraska counties, with the goal of creating regulations for all of Otoe County and all potential developments.
In all, commission members made about 30 changes to the 7.5 pages of the current ordinance. Changes included the distance a turbine shall be set back from the property line of a non-participating landowner (1 mile) to the zoning districts in the county in which turbines shall be allowed (AG-1 only).
The setback distance from village and city limits was increased to 2 miles, and 1 mile from churches or schools.
The purpose of the regulations was modified to include the phrase "while protecting natural resources and habitats within Otoe County." This was added to the previously stated purpose of promoting "safe, effective and efficient use of commercial/utility grade wind energy systems."
A sentence was added to the section on "Shadow Flicker" that reads "Strobe effect that occurs when sun is horizontal to wind turbine blades which causes repetitive intermittent shadows that can affect people on nearby properties."
The ground clearance for rotor blades or airfoils was increased to 30 feet above ground level.
Information was added to the section on turbine noise to include the sentence "No WECS (wind energy conversion system) shall exceed 40 dba during daytime hours and 37 dba at night (night hours are 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) at the nearest residence of a non-participating property or: Three (3) dba maximum 10-minute equivalent continuous sound level allowed above ambient noise level."