Citizens submits proposals to county board

Once again, concerned citizens in Nemaha County filled the Commissioners Room of the Nemaha County Courthouse on Monday, Feb. 4, during the commissioners’ weekly meeting. While County Commissioners – Gary Scoby, Tim Burdiek and Dennis Henry  – had no update for the public, a few citizens presented documents including a requirements sheet, moratorium language and sample resolutions, to the commissioners.

Scoby started the open discussion saying that they had no new update for the group, but that James Neeld – their hired attorney – is still in negotiations with NextEra.

After Scoby opened the floor for public comment, Will Eisenbise of rural Sabetha and Brad Lueger of rural Seneca, presented the commissioners with multiple documents for their review and response on behalf of the concerned citizens of Nemaha and Brown Counties. Those documents included a term sheet, language for a moratorium resolution and the first draft of a State House Bill that is currently being discussed at the committee level.

Eisenbise said that the concerned citizens have hired their own attorney – Patrick Hughes with Adams Jones Law Firm, P.A., out of Wichita. According to Eisenbise, the concerned citizens group is made up of many citizens and businesses from Nemaha and Brown counties.

According to Eisenbise, Hughes drafted a Resolution requesting a moratorium, which would delay the project for 60 days. See a copy of the drafted moratorium online at www.sabethaherald.com. Eisenbise said that this moratorium would allow the commissioners more time to make a decision while the State House of Representatives reviews a new bill that is being brought to committee this week.

The proposed bill states that any residential dwelling, rural home site, farm home site or airport, would have a certain setback in place. Those setbacks are still being developed by legislators. See a copy of the drafted House Bill online at www.sabethaherald.com.

Eisenbise also added that they reached out to multiple Nemaha and Brown County businesses regarding the moratorium, including Wenger Manufacturing, KSi Conveyors, CW Mill, Lortscher Agri Service Inc., CJ Foods and Haverkamp Grocery. These business all responded favorably to the suggested moratorium.

The final document that Eisenbise and Lueger provided to the commissioners was a list of requests regarding industrial wind turbines in Nemaha and Brown counties. The list included the following requests:

Setbacks to Residences – a one-mile setback, as well as a 500-foot height maximum.

Setbacks to Property Boundaries – 1,500 foot setback from non-participating properties.

Property Value Protection – property value guarantee suitable to Nemaha and Brown counties to be enacted.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) – PILOT payment agreement payments be equivalent to what the property taxes would be on this industrial property such as: year one, $8,598,968; year two, $7,156,636; year three, $5,723,304; year four, $4,299,995; year five, $2,866,663; and year six and beyond, $2,004,660 annually.

Radar-Based Obstruction Light Control – all turbines be required to utilize FAA-approved aircraft sensing warning lights, so county residents aren’t subjected to constantly flashing lights when no aircraft are in the vicinity of turbines.

Shadow Flicker Protection System – Any individual turbine be shut down when any part of a turbine-caused shadow is within 100 feet of a non-participating residence.

Audible and Sub-Audible Noise Level Shutdown – The wind company pay for constant third party professional monitoring of audible and sub-audible sound levels with mandatory turbine shutdown whenever 40dba at the exterior of any residence is exceeded.

Decommissioning – County regulations regarding “public nuisance” should be added to fully dismantle inoperative structures and return the land to its original state. However, we believe that this is the shared responsibility of the wind energy company and the participating landowner.

See the full list of requests online at www.sabethaherald.com.

After presenting, Eisenbise and Lueger requested that the commissioners consider implementing the moratorium presented and to give the group feedback.

“We are formally requesting, based on resolution 2019 Moratorium, just to give time to the state, to work out a solution, so that it can be a statewide regulation on these industrial wind turbines,” Eisenbise said. “We are asking for a response in a week, with any feedback on your thoughts or a signed resolution.”

Melinda Sperfslage of rural Kelly said she spoke with the person in charge of the Division of Air with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in regard to noise levels.

Sperfslage said that she was told county commissioners can regulate sound – audible and inaudible. She provided the commissioners with copies of Shawnee County and Douglas County resolutions that are in place for the rural portion of their counties for their review.

“It is within your power to do this,” Sperfslage said.

At the end of the meeting, the commissioners reminded those present that a term sheet has not been signed, and will not be signed until the public has had their opportunity to comment.

County Commissioners will meet again at 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11, with an open wind farm discussion beginning at 10 a.m.

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thumbnail of Citizens Proposals

thumbnail of Moratorium Resolution

thumbnail of State House Bill Draft

Heather Stewart259 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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