Werner Electric's wind turbine plan gets Cottage Grove council's OKThe company got council approval Wednesday of a variance it needed to move forward with the project, which it has proposed as a way to cut building energy costs.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Werner Electric Supply can build a wind turbine on its property in the city’s industrial park, the Cottage Grove City Council decided.
The company got council approval Wednesday of a variance it needed to move forward with the project, which it has proposed as a way to cut building energy costs.
Werner plans a 20-kilowatt wind turbine with a 99-foot monopole and a 30-foot rotor, creating a maximum height of about 114 feet. Some neighbors had opposed the project.
The company needed a variance because the turbine site at the southwest corner of Werner’s building is about 230 feet from a boundary with Hamlet Park. City ordinance requires a buffer of a quarter mile, or 1,320 feet, between a wind turbine and a city park.
Three city commissions and the Economic Development Authority previously backed the project.
Council members voted 3-1 to approve the variance and grant a conditional use permit. Justin Olsen, Jen Peterson and Dave Thiede supported the project. Derrick Lehrke voted against it. Mayor Myron Bailey was absent.
The council had twice tabled a decision. Two members were absent when it was first presented. Peterson said she wanted it tabled the second time so she could learn more about it. She and Olsen each visited other wind turbines in the Twin Cities as they researched the project.
“There was certainly due diligence done here,” Peterson said in supporting Werner's plan. “This was well thought out by all of us, I believe.”
The decision came after nearby homeowners had spoken out against the project. Residents of Harkness Avenue overlooking Werner’s property and the industrial park signed a petition in opposition, citing aesthetic, sound and property value concerns.
Werner recently studied the potential noise impact, said Ben Granley, Werner’s operations director. The study concluded that the level of noise created by the turbine at full operation would be less than the ambient noise in the Harkness Avenue neighborhood.
“I’m confident … that this turbine will be much quieter than people might be concerned about,” Olsen said, adding that the unit Werner purchased is more attractive than other turbines in the Twin Cities region.
See the upcoming Bulletin for more on this story.