BLUE EARTH – Representatives of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights spoke before the Faribault County Commission this week, presenting opposition to a proposed industrial wind energy installation in the county.
Citizens packed the commissioners room at the Courthouse to voice their concerns regarding placement of wind turbines.
The current setback for non-participating residences is 1,000 feet. The average rotor diameter of wind energy turbines has been steadily increasing, leading many citizens to believe the current setback requirement is not enough to protect non-participating lands and residences.
The Coalition requested that the board consider increasing setbacks from non-participating dwellings to 10 times the rotor diameter of the wind turbine to be installed, which is comparable to the ordinance adopted in Goodhue County.
Many of these Faribault County residents believe the placement of the wind turbines is infringing on their rights. Community members discussed several points regarding the wind turbine placement, including limitations on hunting rights, firearm use, agricultural prosperity and residents’ quality of life. They believe large-scale wind turbines can cause harm to people in the form of loss of enjoyment of property through added noise, shadow flicker and a complete change to their environment, which is almost completely out of their control. Most object to an object, roughly the size of a Boeing 747, over 400 feet in the air constantly moving within 1,000 to 1,500 feet of them, said one resident.
Carolyn Zierke offered her perspective on the proposed wind turbines:
“By allowing growers to protect their crops during the most important time in a plant’s life, it means, for you as a county, an additional local revenue of over $3.8 billion by not placing 120 turbines on productive farmland … Why are counties overlaying an industrial zone on top of a productive agricultural zone? This county has the highest producing ground in the state … Don’t compromise the soil structure that these growers have built in this county, or the investment in tile to properly drain these productive crops that we grow, because the revenue generated from the state’s highest-producing county has a rippling effect on the community.”
Dan Warner also weighed in.
“Don’t get mesmerized by the apple,” he said. “The apple is money. These [wind turbines] are money. Please don’t let the illusion of big money, generated by these big machines, cloud your judgment in protecting the residents who are forced to live around these big machines. These same people, and these same families, who populate our schools and shop in our small towns are the ones who are trying to carve out a life out there. These are the same families that have elected you to protect them. Please don’t bite the apple.”
Shanelle Montana, project developer for the Rose Lake Wind Project in Faribault County, spoke on behalf of EDF and its proposed project, defending the company and its standards. Montana said the company encourages this type of conversation, hoping the citizens’ questions were answered.
In other business at the commission meeting, Dawn Fellows provided the board with an update on Central Services. Fellows requested that the board approve the hire of a new assistant county engineer. The board unanimously approved the new hire.
Fellows, accompanied by Bob Mickelson, senior project manager and construction administrator for ISG Engineering, presented a request for the board to accept the bid from Mid-Continental Restoration Company for a base bid of $547,625, along with the proposed unit pricing and the alternate bid addition by the same company in the amount of $39,900.
On March 16, ISG Engineering received bids for the Faribault County Courthouse exterior restoration project. Four general contractor bids were received, and ISG Engineering has reviewed each of the bids, finding the base bid made by Mid-Continental Restoration Company acceptable, along with the alternate bid addition and unit pricing of $26 per brick and $198 per square yard for tuckpointing.
The board approved both requests unanimously.
Turning to another matter, Sheriff Mike Gormley and Amara Huston, fraud welfare investigator, presented the board with a request to approve the state Department of Human Services Multi-County Grant contract, regarding grants the counties recently received. Three grants were available this year, and Martin and Faribault County Human Services received two of the available grants. These grants totaled $85,000 per year for the counties. The board unanimously accepted the contract that will allow Human Services to receive these grants.
In other business, Mark Daly of Public Works presented the board with approval requests regarding bids for seal coat oil, micro-surfacing, striping and overlays. The board approved these requests, including a bid of $210,554 from Henry Meigs for seal coat oil, a bid of $371,970 from ASTECH for micro-surfacing, a bid of $44,311 from AAA Striping for striping, and a bid of $3,580,024 from Ulland Brothers for overlays. Each of these bids were under their proposed budget.
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