At the April 19 meeting of the Fillmore County Planning Commission, revisions were made on a proposed ordinance for renewable energy. The county has only a wind power ordinance currently. This proposed ordinance will regulate both wind and solar energy systems.
Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins explained the wind portion is similar to the current ordinance. However, more terms used in the proposed ordinance are clearly defined.
The proposed ordinance language was taken from a Martin County ordinance. Multiple tweaks were discussed, changing the language, to make the ordinance applicable to Fillmore County.
The ordinance will regulate both micro/non-commercial and commercial wind energy conversion systems. A micro wind system or non-commercial wind tower will be subject to all setback requirements and will require a land use permit in the Ag District. Micro systems are defined as less than 75 feet in total height and under 1 KW. Non-commercial wind systems have a combined name plate capacity of less than 100 KW. These systems will require a conditional use permit (CUP) in Residential Ag, Commercial, or Industrial Districts.
All commercial and meteorological towers will require a CUP. Commercial wind systems have a name plate capacity of equal to or greater than 100 KW. Meteorological towers are defined as towers which are erected primarily to measure wind speed and direction plus other data relevant to wind systems.
Only a land use permit is required for a small solar energy system (name plate capacity of less than 40 kilowatts). A CUP is required for all large solar energy systems (name plate capacity of 40 kilowatts or more).
The proposed ordinance will be brought back for further review after the suggested revisions are made.
803. Sale or Transfer of Real Estate
Several revisions were discussed as they pertain to subsurface sewage treatment system (SSTS) compliance. Before real estate is sold or transferred the SSTS must be inspected by a person certified by the state of Minnesota. Also, “pre-treatment systems will require an Intermediate Inspector.” Feedlot officer Mike Frauenkron noted that there is a push for more of the pre-treatment type systems which allow for a smaller drain field.
Adkins explained that with the new policy a property sale will not be able to be recorded until a certificate of compliance is in place or escrow account funds are established to pay for bringing the SSTS up to code. After May 1 the deed will not be able to be transferred without either a compliance certificate or the escrow account. This requirement does not apply to real estate without a SSTS or that is connected to a city sewer system.
Adkins commented that the inspection requirement has been in the county’s ordinance since 2013.
There was discussion about real estate sold through a contract for deed. Andy Bisek maintained these properties need the SSTS inspected at the beginning of the contract for deed so the buyer knows what he is getting. Duane Bakke added then the SSTS would not need to be inspected at the end of the contract. Adkins commented if the contract for deed is recorded we do the inspection at the beginning. If the contract is not recorded, we do the inspection when the property transfers.
This ordinance with revisions will be brought back for a public hearing.
604. Ag District
This was only discussed briefly due to the unusual lengthy meeting up to this point. Gary Ruskell said this comes up every year. Is there some way to fix it? He was speaking of the restriction that does not allow a dwelling to be built on cropland with a crop equivalency rating (CER) of 66 or greater under most circumstances. Ruskell added the proposed changes are a starting point.
Adkins said these are my suggestions. How many variances have been granted to build homes on cropland? Bakke noted the number has been greater over the last three years. Bisek asked how many houses have been built where people didn’t really want them to be built? Ruskell stated the county commissioners want to keep as much cropland in the county as they can. Adkins added that many land owners have found another location to build where a variance is not required.
Board of Adjustment
This was the first meeting of the board of adjustment in 2018. Steve Duxbury was elected chairman and Gary Ruskell was elected vice-chairman.
Ryan Nelson had applied for a variance to build a dwelling on land with a CER greater than 65 on land owned by Kevin Nelson, Section 22, Amherst Township. During the public hearing Ryan Nelson explained he wanted to be close to the home/family farm which he still works on.
There was no comment from township officers or the public. The variance was approved.