Short winded

Continuing the story of Carleton’s wind turbine and its attempt to get Northfield to write some legislation just for them…as the Council liaison, I attended the Planning Commission meeting last Tuesday when it held the required public hearing for the new wind ordinance.

City Planner Dan Olson stated that he was no expert on wind ordinances and had drafted the ordinance by borrowing from other cities (though I have no idea what criteria he might have employed in choosing to pick on ordinance provision rather than another) after his week of quick research.  This was followed by the applicant, Carleton College, going through line by line to ask for changes which suit their project.  A few members of the public spoke in favor of wind energy generally and one impassioned Ward 2 resident begged that Northfield not allow more unattractive turbines (the Northfield News story was how they all got wind of the hearing).

Let me state this clearly so no one gets the idea that I’m opposed to wind energy: I want the new Land Development Code to contain regulations which encourage the use of alternative energy, including wind.   The regulations should be well-researched, based on appropriate evidence with adequate public input.

I won’t be long-winded about the problem with the current process: it is a terrible policy precedent to allow a private entity to preempt city process to have special legislation created  so they can meet their private deadline to order a wind turbine.

Northfield News photo

Northfield News photo

6 thoughts on “Short winded

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  2. Betsey……. Let me first state: I totally support both the colleges and appreciate how they benefit the community……. However, I would have to agree with you that there are some very definite problems with this process.
    1. The college wanted a College Development Zone so they could be the “Masters of their own Fates”. They got that zoning designation, but when they want to go outside of the CDZ, it seems that they still have ‘masterly’ expectations.
    2. Developers, such as Jay Jasnoch, have tried to get to the city to be a bit more flexible on things like grading their properties, to better facilitate their building schedules; not usually successful…….. i.e. a ‘timeline’ issue.
    3. All private citizens have timeline issues with building, asking for zoning changes or variations, as do redevelopment commercial projects. It has been my experience that the city facilitates their internal timeline, first.
    4. There are many excellent models of new technology ordinances, and one of the experts, Carol Overland, actually wrote the initial city/Carleton wind turbine technology grant….It would have been good to bring in a local expert instead of expecting staff to develop an instant , but possibly unrealistic, expertise.

    There’s probably more, but that’s enough for now. I see issues like this and some that will arise with the Arts Union building, as being highly important to be handled with utmost diplomacy. When I first moved here , 14 years ago, there was a lot of negative town/gown attitude; it would be a shame for that negative position to redevelop.

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