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Afton takes its turn at turbine talk

Afton already has a controversial tower in their midst, but could another structure beginning with a 'T' be added into the mix?

At the July 6 meeting of the Afton Planning Commission, commissioners heard a presentation from Ralph Jacobson, from Innovative Power Systems, about wind turbines.

The issue of wind turbines was looked into by the planning commission, because a new property owner, Alida Messinger, is requesting to install a wind turbine on the property located at 536 Stagecoach Trail South.

"We're kind of stuck, because you have no ordinances dealing with wind turbines," Jacobson said.

Planning Commission chair Barbara Ronningen said she recalled their ordinances not allowing wind turbines in Afton.

City Planner Chuck Marohn said he did not recall any mention of turbines.

During his presentation, Jacobson informed the commission that the model that the applicant is looking at is a Jacobs Wind Machine, which is a 20 kW and gives off an average of 20,000 kW of energy per year given average wind.

"They leave a very environmentally friendly environment footprint," Jacobson said.

The proposed wind turbine would be about 90 feet tall, 4 feet at the base and about 2.5 feet at the top.

Some of the questions that commissioners, and the audience, raised about wind turbines included noise, low flying planes, and birds.

Jacobson said they have done extensive studies with the National Audubon Society over the bird concerns. As for low flying planes, Jacobson said he has not heard of any issues with them in relation to turbines.

The only commissioner to offer an opinion on the turbine issue was newly sworn in commissioner Tom Nolz.

"I believe the city would like to move in this direction, but we don't allow anything this tall," he said.

At the meeting, the planning commission made no decision to recommend anything to the Afton City Council.

Note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect measurements of the proposed wind turbine. This is a corrected version of the story.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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