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Rare writ delays action on Rice County wind turbines

A rarely seen legal action – a writ of mandamus – has been issued in the case of proposed wind turbines in Rice County.

A judge issued the writ “to force Rice County officials to re-notify dozens of individuals affected by the proposed construction of wind turbines in Northfield Township – and delay any county action on turbine construction approval,” reports the Faribault Daily News.

The paper said such writs are “[I]ssued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary.

The judge ruled the county hadn’t notified residents in a timely manner – 10 days in advance – about a public hearing on the turbines. There was a newspaper notice about the hearings but apparently some notices mailed to residents didn’t arrive until three days before the hearing.

A county official said one resident didn’t get the notice in the mail in time because of a postage problem.

A wind company wants to erect two 326-foot-tall commercial wind turbines in the southeastern corner of Northfield Township. The town board there has some concerns with the plan, noting that seven residences are within 1,400 feet of the proposed location, and two nearby residents have health conditions that could be compromised by the presence of the turbines, the paper said.

It’s expected that the county will re-issue the notifications to properties near the proposed turbine site before any further action is taken.