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Orono couple ordered to lock up wind turbine to avoid jail

An Orono couple may stay out of jail if they lock up a wind turbine at their house, an attorney representing them said Thursday.

Jay and Kendall Nygard had faced six months in jail for refusing a judge’s order to take down the wind turbine.

Minneapolis attorney Erick Kaardal said Hennepin District Judge Susan Robiner ruled in court Thursday morning that the Nygards would need to ensure the spinning structure was locked up, turn the key over to the court and “complete painting the wind turbine with flat black paint.”

Kaardal said in an email the Nybergs testified in court they had already “locked down the wind turbine rendering it inoperable” and would provide a key to someone else so they couldn’t start it up again.

In June, Judge Robiner ordered them to take the turbine down under neighbor nuisance laws.

But in a more recent opinion, another Hennepin County judge said Orono couldn’t completely ban small wind turbines under state law. Hennepin District Judge Philip Bush in October said state law allows cities to put requirements on turbines, but not ban them.

Judge Robiner’s written order is expected Friday or early next week.