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Douglas County board denies Osakis wind tower request for second time

A conditional use permit request for a wind tower in Osakis ping-ponged between the planning commission and the county board before finally being denied last week.

The little wind turbine tower that could, according to the Douglas County planning advisory commission, found out it really can’t, at least not in Osakis Township at the corner of Hope Road and Calvary Road Southeast.

Property owner Barbara Trisco applied for a conditional use permit to erect a 39.9 kilowatt wind tower for agricultural power generation on property that is zoned rural residential.

The request was approved by the planning commission with eight conditions, but was denied in a three-to-two vote by Douglas County commissioners on October 23. Commissioners Norm Salto, Bev Bales and Paul C. Anderson voted to deny the application, stating that the location of the tower was not in the best interest of the community.

All five commissioners made a point to clarify that they are supportive of wind energy despite the controversy over this particular tower.

The application was originally approved on August 15 by the planning commission and brought before the county board on August 28. Since new information had been discovered between the two meetings, commissioners sent the application back to the planning advisory for review. It was again approved by the planning advisory commission in September before being defeated in October by the county.

A number of Trisco’s neighbors attended the October 23 commissioners’ meeting to voice concerns about the tower being too close to their residences. Some were also in attendance who supported Trisco. Reasons of opposition included safety and whether property values would go down if the tower goes up.

“What concerns me more than anything is the safety aspect of it,” said Calvary Road resident Tom McLaughlin. He said that since the county doesn’t have a wind tower ordinance, the regulations being used are intended for cell towers, which do not have moving parts.

“The first 25, 30-mile an hour wind in January, is a blade going to come off and go through my roof?” McLaughlin asked.

Hope Road resident and Osakis City Clerk Angela Jacobson stated that the decision to put the tower where three-phase power is available is pure economics, which is not the county’s concern.

“[Trisco] should have gotten approval for this before he got a tower,” Jacobson reasoned. “We strongly oppose.”

Douglas County Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush advised the board to act on the current application and consider another application for a different location if Trisco decides to pursue that route.

Commissioners heeded Rush’s advice and voted on the application at hand, which was denied.