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First home wind turbine stirs opposition

It would be the first residential wind turbine in Cottage Grove under the city's revamped ordinances governing wind energy conversion systems -- and, already, someone's opposed.

Cottage Grove resident John Kooyman has applied for the permit required to build a 113-foot-tall wind turbine on his five-acre property in Cottage Grove, six months after city officials tightened up zoning codes in anticipation of expanding interest in the alternative energy.

Planning commissioners last week recommended approval of Kooyman's application to construct the 10-kilowatt wind turbine that he says would power his home and produce extra electricity that could be sold back to Xcel Energy.

But, commissioners also heard from John Bailey of Bailey Nurseries -- which owns 20 acres of adjacent property that the city has slated for future residential development -- who told the commission he is "strongly opposed" to construction of the turbine.

Kooyman's residence is located in a rural residential zone in the city's northwest corner, on Geneva Avenue between 65th and 70th streets, with denser housing development nearby. Cottage Grove Senior Planner John McCool said last week the proposed wind turbine conforms to all aspects of the city's ordinance.

The turbine, constructed by ReDriven Power, a Canadian company, and shipped to Minnesota would cost more than $22,000, according to the company's Website.

"The payback on this for us is estimated at 13 years and it has a 30-year lifespan," Kooyman said during a public hearing at last week's planning commission meeting. "After that, I hope the payback is a little more."

The eventual payback on Bailey's land is what concerns him. He told commissioners that construction of the turbine -- which would be in full view of some homes that could be built on the land -- would make the property less desirable to developers.

"If you drove out there today, it's farm country; it's a big, open piece of ground, and that's not the future for that area," Bailey said during the public hearing last week. "This type of structure just does not fit in this area."

Kooyman's turbine, with a 100-foot-tall tower and 13-foot rotating blades, would stand roughly as tall as a nearby water tower, which McCool estimated at 110 feet in height.

No other property owners from the surrounding area commented on the proposal. Neighborhood opposition earlier this year to a wind turbine at East Ridge High School in Woodbury scuttled that school's plans to construct a similar structure.

The Cottage Grove City Council will address the proposed wind turbine at its Dec. 16 meeting.