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Holt County Supervisors Approve Changes In Zoning Regulations

Nov 23, 2022 (0)



After sifting line by line through proposed zoning regulations, Holt County Supervisors approved changes for regulations regarding pipelines, carbon pipelines and wind energy.

Proposed regulations for solar energy were sent back to the county's planning and zoning board for additional information during the Nov. 16 meeting.

Pipeline regulations

Proposed regulations update the definition pipeline to include crude oil, tarsands and affluents.

Per regulations, a pipeline will be “any pipe with a nominal diameter of eight inches or more, located within the county that is used to transport all petroleum products, natural gas, water, but does not include a pipe used to transport or store petroleum products, including crude oil and tarsands, natural gas, effluents or water, within a refining storage or manufacturing facility.”

Planning and zoning officer Mike Durre told supervisors the update differentiates between crude oil and tarsands.

“There was a question if tarsands are petroleum,” Durre said.

Any pipeline installed below running or standing water shall be installed by boring at least five feet below the bed of the water.

“My concern on that is these rivers are getting deeper, continually,” said chairman Bill Tielke. 

He said 35 years ago, on land he owns, water could be crossed on a four-wheeler.

“Now you can't chase a cow across it because it's worked its way down about three foot. Are we looking at every 30 years or less ... who's going to monitor the five-feet below? Is five feet enough?” Tielke asked.

Brent Niese, land acquisition manager with summit Carbon Solutions, said his company “looks at depth of cover management.”

“If we would see some sort of erosion, at the bank itself or the bottom, you could put some kind of armor on top to protect it,” he said.

Pipeline setbacks, from the center of the pipe to a residence, will be 300 feet. Setback from wells, whether registered or unregistered, will be 300 feet. Applicants shall be responsible to locate all unregistered wells and drainage tile and work in cooperation with landowners to locate all wells and tiles.

Abandoment of pipeline in the county will occur if the applicant stops operation for transportation of petroleum products, natural gas or water, for a period of 12 consecutive months.

That's a change from the current 10-year requirement.

Supervisors unanimously approved the pipeline regulation changes.

Carbon pipeline regulations

Following the reading of the new regulations for carbon pipeline, supervisor Doug Frahm expressed concerns about use of eminent domain.

“We hear a lot about taking away people's rights ... you guys (Summit Carbon Solutions) have said you'll use it. Is there any way we can get around that? he asked.

Niese said his company is working on voluntary easements on a daily basis. As of Oct. 31, the company has completed approximately 45% of land acquisition in the county.

Tielke questioned if regulations should require some type of odorant or if that can be defined through the conditional use permit process.

Niese said the problem is there isn't a meter to stop that requirement at each county's border.

“If there's an odorant to alert a person before the CO2 sensor goes off, or if you're driving down the road and happen to smell it, I would like to add that and it's monitored,” Tielke said.

Niese said he was unsure how the addition of an odorant would affect the carbon dioxide in the line.

“I'm sure there's something about adding an additional product or odorant to a line. In each easement, we have that it's going to be CO2 when it's naturally occuring. In easements that have already been executed, we're saying we can't add anything else to it. I don't know that makes us stand legally,” Niese said.

Tielke asked supervisors to consider consistency in setback distances.

The proposed regulations for carbon pipelines includes a 400-foot setback, compared to the 300-foot setback for regular pipelines.

“I would like to see the overlay out of there but keep the 300 foot from wells and residences,” Tielke said.

Frahm asked if language could be added to allow a waiver for negotiations between a company and landowners to adjust the setback distance within the proposed limit.

The addition of a waiver puts more limitations on the landowner, according to Niese.

“These regulations are not built for them (Summit Carbon). They're built for the county as we go down the road,” Mary Kaczor, planning and zoning board member, said. “I have no problem with lowering that to 300 feet, but I think Doug is right adding that waiver if the landowner is fine with that pipe coming closer than 300 feet to their house and it's between the company and that landowner.”

The carbon pipeline overlay district was reduced from 200 feet to 150 feet.

Distance from water wells was discussed, with supervisors approving a 300-foot setback.

Proposed language regarding abandoment establishes a 12-month period. Niese said across other states, abandoment terms are five years.

Concerns about a potential sale of an ethanol plant and it going offline if a sale takes too long were discussed. A year-long limit for abandonment would be affected.

Frahm said, “Consistency, consistency, consistency, we've heard it so many times ...”

Tielke interjected, “We're trying to make this feasible, for not only Holt County, but for farmers ... Twelve months might short in a change of hands.”

Supervisor Scott Keyes suggested a two-year limit.

Niese said ethanol plants sometimes shut down due to demand for product or if specific equipment needs changed out.

After further discussion, supervisors agreed to a five-year period abandonment period.

Solar energy regulations

Tielke told supervisors he fielded a phone call from a Nebraska Public Power District energy consultant who expressed concerns about wording with the proposed regulations.

The chairman suggested county attorney Brent Kelly and the planning and zoning board look at comments from NPPD and adjust the proposed regulations.

“I would probably be a no vote on anything (on solar) because I don't know enough about it to state an opinion one way or another,” Tielke said.

According to Kaczor, solar energy used for agriculture purposes are not included in the proposed regulation.

“It was never our zoning intent to regulate solar panels put on irrigation wells, livestock wells or houses. We don't want any part of that,” she said.

Nebraska Public Power District officials offered to provide education about solar energy.

Durre cautioned, “When we utilize someone like this, to education and help in that process, down the road, we don't want to hear, ‘They got everything they wanted.' We've heard that from other entities.

Supervisors agreed to return solar regulations to planning and zoning for further review.

Wind energy regulations

Supervisors reviewed three changes regarding wind energy.

A new proposal will require an aircraft detection lighting system, which will be radar-activated. It will turn blinking lights on turbines on or off, based on the presence or absence of aircraft in the vicinity.

According to proposed language in the regulations, “this technology allows ‘lights out' for up to 98% of the night, which significantly reduces the towers' visual impacts on surrounding communities.” Existing commercial wind facilities will be required to install an FAA-approved ADLS system upon any new repowering agreement.

Ned Porter, land manager for Invenergy, said repowering re-energizes the turbines and generators at the top.

“Repowering typically happens when you've met your return on investment and machines are getting more and more efficient, so you change out the insides of the cell. Blades keep getting better. That's repowering,” Porter said.

A breakdown is not defined a repowering situation.

Kaczor said Grand Prairie officials will need to apply for a repowering agreement, but she has never seen the official agreement.

“At that point, we would require this ADLS,” she said.

Setback distances were proposed to expand to 6,000 feet from a habitable dwelling.

According to Kaczor, a dwelling is a livable house. A complete list of definitions will be included in the county's updated comprehensive plan when planning and zoning complete that process.

Frahm proposed a one-mile setback, with a waiver on distance possible, and approval of the ADLS system.

Paxton said one mile is too far, expressing concerns about scaring away future development.

“We're passing up opportunities. We can give our consituents some type of property tax relief. We can only tax them so long, so hard. We've got to look at some other sort of income we can produce here,” Paxton said.

According to Tielke, the Grand Prairie project pays approximately $4 million in taxes to Holt County entities.

“We've about got the dirt tapped as hard as we can tap it for taxes,” Tielke said. “Everybody in this county wants decent roads and decent services and I don't know where we're going to come up with the money.”

Frahm's motion for wind energy was approved.


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