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Wind farm developer to pay county, townships for road damage

WORTHINGTON – Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a modification to the development agreement between the county and enXco that will have the company paying for necessary road repairs rather than contracting for the work to be done.

The initial agreement stated the company would be responsible for maintaining and repairing roads used during the 2010 construction of the Nobles Wind Farm. Now, enXco and the county – along with all four of the townships involved – have agreed to a monetary settlement.

Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said enXco will pay the county and three of the townships a rate of $24,000 per mile to restore roadways affected by the hauling of materials to sites where wind turbines were erected.

Olney, Dewald and Larkin townships joined the county in the agreement, while Summit Lake Township established its own agreement with enXco.

Schnieder said the roads involved were assessed last fall, after a majority of the work was completed.

“We put together some estimates based on information townships provided to us, along with our costs,” Schnieder said.

At the agreed-upon rate per mile, Olney Township will collect $81,600, Dewald Township $177,600, and Larkin Township $156,000. Nobles County will receive $114,000 for its gravel roads, and $262,800 for bituminous surfaces.

Schnieder said the county and townships will use that money to make repairs, or can bank it for future road projects.

In other action, the board:

* Approved allocations to individual township road accounts for 2011. In all, the townships will share in $369,497, which is based on each township’s levy, population, town road mileage and other factors.

The approximate amounts paid per township are as follows: Bigelow, $27,010; Bloom, $16,147; Dewald, $17,958; Elk, $17,810; Graham Lakes, $15,149; Grand Prairie, $15,482; Hersey, $25,976; Indian Lake, $17,810; Larkin, $14,484; Leota, $26,197; Lismore, $13,302; Little Rock, $18,770; Lorain, $12,859; Olney, $17,551; Ransom, $17,108; Seward, $17,736; Summit Lake, $19,473; Westside, $18,734; Wilmont, $14,115; and Worthington, $25,828.

Commissioner David Benson talked about the potential to turn some county roads over to townships, as the county does not receive any funding from the state for road maintenance.

“There are some excellent candidates for very low volume, high-quality roads (to be transferred),” he said. The last time the county took such action was about 14 years ago, he added.

* Approved requests from Sheriff Kent Wilkening to hire one part-time and one full-time jailor to replace vacancies at Prairie Justice Center.

* Approved the first quarter 2011 appropriation to RSVP of $7,239.

* Denied a request from Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. to contribute sponsorship funding for the upcoming Bioscience Conference. Commissioner Vern Leistico said the county already is contracted to pay WREDC more than $30,000.

* Approved a resolution of support for creation of a joint airport zoning board. Potential appointments to the board will be discussed further at the next board meeting.

* Accepted an $816 state grant for the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office to provide boat and water safety for 2011.