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Man proposes a 1-turbine wind farm

A proposed small community wind project in Hartland Township was sent back to the Freeborn County Planning Commission Tuesday for further review.

Called the Cedar River Wind Farm III, the project proposes to place a single 1.5-megawatt turbine on 280th Street, about two miles west of Minnesota Highway 13 between Manchester and Hartland.

The turbine would be only about a half a mile away from an existing turbine with the Bent Tree Wind Farm.

Freeborn County commissioners said they sent the project back to the Planning Commission to give that panel the chance to review new engineering reports that were just completed on the project. The project passed decibel noise ordinance and other setback requirements.

The Planning Commission had previously voted against the project.

Unlike turbines on a commercial wind farm, the turbine on the Cedar River Wind Farm would be owned by any people in the area who choose to invest money in the project or who have signed up for wind rights there, said developer Don Burns. The profits, in turn, would go back to these investors, and the energy generated would feed into a nearby Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services substation.

Burns said Jim Knutson, the landowner where the tower would be located, would be paid equal to what the Bent Tree Wind Farm pays for its sites, plus he can invest in the project and make money off the generated electricity, too.

“It’s a pretty good return for a farmer,” he said.

Burns said he started looking at areas for a potential community-based wind project in 2007, around the same time he started securing wind rights. He noted he thinks the area is a good-wind area and pointed out that he thinks local projects should be allowed to capitalize on the wind there.

“I believe private ownership of wind can boom this area,” he said.

He noted he tried to plan his turbine as close as he could to the 201-megawatt Bent Tree Wind Farm to minimize any side effects that come with a wind farm.

Freeborn County Environmental Services Director Wayne Sorensen said the closest neighbor is about 1,600 feet away from the proposed location for the tower.

County ordinance requires that a wind tower over 200 feet high have a setback of 1,000 feet from the nearest property.

Though the neighbors are farther away than 1,000 feet from the proposed location, there were still two neighbors who expressed concerns about the project during the Tuesday meeting.

Charlene Doyle, who lives on an acreage about three-quarters of a mile away from the proposed tower location, showed pictures of her view of what the horizon looks like from her property already with the Bent Tree Wind Farm turbines.

She said she used to have trees all along her property that could have blocked the proposed windmill, but because of the June 17, 2010, tornadoes, those trees were destroyed.

She also questioned the hunting rights around a wind turbine.

Another neighbor, Brett Crumb, who owns an acreage about 1,600 feet away, said he is worried about reduced property values the turbine might impose.

“You’re affecting everybody around them just for this one windmill,” Crumb said. “I don’t want to live on a wind farm and neither does anybody else.”

Board Chairman Dan Belshan asked whether the turbine could be moved back further 800 to 1,000 feet from the acreage and still allow the project to come about without any problems.

The planning commission will meet again to take on the issue at its Nov. 7 meeting, with the issue likely coming back to the commissioners Nov. 15.