IGH passes wind turbine ordinance

Inver Grove Heights residents interested in constructing vertical axis wind turbines now have nothing to wait for but a strong wind.

The city council approved an ordinance that will allow the turbines as a permitted use in the city’s A and E-1 zoning districts in its Nov. 25 meeting. The measure allows residents to construct one turbine up to 52.5 feet tall per 15 acres of land.

Prior to the new ordinance, vertical axis wind turbines had been allowed in the city with a conditional use permit, and Council member Dennis Madden reiterated his belief at the Nov. 25 meeting things shouldn’t change. Madden said he was considered that allowing the turbines as a permitted use would lead to a proliferation of the machines at the cost of the city’s rural appeal.

“With all of the work that we’ve done over the years, and the city councils before us, to maintain the beauty and the original, pristine, beautiful trees, to have 52-foot towers out there — I’m afraid we’re going to regret passing this ordinance and I hate to think of those things sticking up,” Madden said. “They’re not pretty. They’re eyesores.”

Jim Boldt, an Anawanda Path resident, also spoke up at the meeting to express his concerns. Boldt said he’d done his own research on vertical axis wind turbines after reading about the proposed ordinance and said he didn’t believe they would be effective. Given that, Boldt said he feared wind turbines that would be built in short-lived enthusiasm and then left cluttering the landscape.

“I, as a resident, don’t want 50-foot abandoned towers around,” Boldt said.

The council assured Boldt the ordinance included a requirement for turbine owners to dismantle the machines at their own cost if they fall into disuse.

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech added she didn’t believe it was within the council’s purview to evaluate the efficiency of the turbines if residents wanted them.

“It comes down to if you’re willing to pay that much money to generate however much power it generates, more power to you,” Piekarski Krech said.

The council approved the final reading of the ordinance by a 4-1 vote, with Madden dissenting.

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