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    County commissioners approve new wind energy systems regulations

    February 2, 2023 - News Staff


      Julie Davis, CherryRoad Media

      The Otoe County Board of Commissioners approved new zoning regulations on commercial/utility grad wind energy systems at the board's Jan. 31 meeting.

      The regulations were approved unanimously after Otoe County Attorney Jenniffer Panko-Rahe suggested some minor changes to the definitions section of the regulations.

      The approval came after about a year of discussions, public hearings, planning and zoning commission meetings, and face-to-face, neighbor-to-neighbor conversations that resulted in citizens being heard about what they wanted in the regulations.

      The audience of about 20 residents who voiced their objections to the original ordinances and worked with the various county agencies to make changes happen applauded after the board cast its votes.

      "We researched and went with what the public wanted," said Board Chair and Third District Commissioner Jerad Sornson.

      Fourth District Commissioner James Parsons thanked the members of the county planning and zoning commission as well as those citizens who wanted the regulations changed, noting that "Otoe Countians stand for what they want."

      Ann Boellstorff, one of the organizers of the group who wanted regulatory change, said she and her fellow group members thanked the county planning and zoning commission.

      "We appreciate you listening to us," she told the county commissioners.

      After the meeting, Boellstorff said she and her fellow citizens were monitoring wind energy projects in Lancaster County and in other locations in Nebraska.

      "We feel like we were heard," she said of the meeting's outcome. "It's been a long, tiring process for everyone, but it's a good day for Otoe County."

      In other matters, the county commissioners Approved an interlocal agreement with Nebraska City Utilities (NCU) for the purchase and installation of a new generator at Fire-East Tower. The cost will be split between the county and NCU; and Approved a memorandum of understanding for Nebraska Courtroom Technology transfer of ownership between the Administrative Office of the Court and Probation and Otoe County. The state is in the process of upgrading and standardizing courtroom technology to make things easier for court staff and attorneys.

      The board also approved declaring a Katolight Corporation generator and miscellaneous road shop equipment, including two fuel tanks, three fuel pumps, a drag bracket and a lift arm for a motor grader, and four rims and tires for a trailer, as surplus. Jon Brinkman was appointed by the board to sell these items as surplus on

      Before the meeting began, Sornson welcomed the new First District Commissioner, Charles "Chuck" Cole, to the board and thanked County Clerk Jenny Bassinger, County Attorney Panko-Rahe, and County Treasurer Nikki Kreifels for the work in selecting Cole for the position.

      The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Otoe County Board of Commissioners is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the Otoe County Courthouse.


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