This may just be turbine season.
After a weeks-long debate over several large wind turbines in various locations around Rice County that made its way to Northfield’s council chambers, Bridgewater and Greenvale townships are set to consider similar, albeit smaller, generators within their borders.
Bridgewater is up first, holding a public hearing Wednesday night on a requested Interim Use Permit and variance for a single 34-kilowatt turbine proposed for Fred Huemoeller’s farm along Eaton Avenue south of Dundas.
Greenvale Township holds its public hearing Jan. 11 in response to a request by Herman Ohmann to place a 39.9-kilowatt turbine on land on Foliage Avenue, about a mile north of 320th Street.
The proposed turbines that came before the Rice county Planning Commission are 1.8 to 2.0-megwatts apiece and about 400 feet tall.
Bridgewater’s zoning ordinances require property owners get an Interim Use Permit to construct turbines, like the one Huemoeller is planning, that are less than 40 kilowatts. Larger turbines require Conditional Use Permits.
In Huemoeller’s case, he’s asking for two variances, one to waive regulations on setbacks and the other for tower height restrictions.
Town ordinances require turbines be no taller than 132 feet and don’t allow them to be placed any closer to a property line than one and a half times the unit’s height. In this case, the 160-foot turbine could be no closer to a neighboring property than 240 feet.
Zoning administrator Jim Braun said he’s not sold on approving the variances and will recommend the board enforce the setback requirement.
“He’s got 32 acres … of farmland,” said Braun, noting that the applicant had plenty of space to shift his turbine.
As for the height restriction, Braun on Tuesday said he’d urge leniency if Huemoeller can show why he can’t reduce the lattice-style tower’s height.
Supervisor Glen Castore, who said Huemoeller plans to use the turbine to generate power for buildings on his property, doesn’t expect opposition to the project.
Unlike a proposed 2009 11-turbine wind farm project in Greenvale Township which generated an outcry from residents in and out of Dakota County, the one set for a January public hearing is much more modest.
The applicant, Herman Ohmann, is asking for a single, 185-foot turbine on his farm.
Greenvale ordinances allow turbines, including antenna, up to 200 feet high, but only as an interim use, which requires a public hearing.
Ordinances in both townships dictate the removal of turbines no longer in use. In Greenvale Township, the Interim Use Permit doesn’t transfer with the sale of the property and would require review by the Town Board.
In Bridgewater, turbines are inspected annually by the zoning administrator.
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