BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN The Delano City Council ended the city’s moratorium on alternative energy with approval of an alternative energy ordinance Tuesday evening.
City Planner Alan Brixius walked the council through some key points of the ordinance before it was approved.
In residential areas, geothermal systems with ground-source heat pumps will be limited to lots of at least 20,000 square feet, or a half-acre. The systems are required to be setback from property lines. Brixius said staff at Delano Municipal Utilities was comfortable with those restrictions.
Regarding geothermal systems, if they are abandoned or fall into disrepair, the city may take action to remove them.
For wind generators, property owners must have an interconnection agreement in place with a utility before a building permit can be issued. There is no limit on how much energy can be generated, as the city’s attorney advised the city to remove the 125 percent limit, which was included in a draft of the ordinance.
Wind turbines of more than 75 feet tall may be allowed in industrial areas with a conditional use permit. For those taller, freestanding units, the setback is one and a half times the length of the unit. A flicker study may be required for a freestanding unit measuring 75 feet or more, and a flicker study must be required for a freestanding unit measuring 150 feet or more.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-regulated noise requirements are also in place. The nighttime level is no more than 50 decibels for a 50-minute period and 55 decibels for a 10-minute period.
“If we get a squeaky one, we can say it needs to be repaired,” Brixius said.
Regarding solar panels, only flush-mounted systems will be allowed on homes in residential areas, while bracketed units may be used on flat roofs in other areas because they are typically 1 to 3 feet above the roof and cast shadows. Ground-mounted solar panels are limited to 25 percent of the entire area.
Brixius explained how he approached the drafting of the ordinance.
“My focus was more on the neighboring properties than those using (alternative energy),” Brixius said. “We talked about it from the aspect of living next to it. A person who is adament about doing it can endure the flicker or a squeaky wind turbine, but a neighbor shouldn’t have to.”
Applications for alternative energy systems will be handled administratively, meaning they will not need to go before the council.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved reducing the security for Uppal Group LLC for Clover Springs Fourth Addition from $534,476 to $184,547, to cover the amount of work remaining plus a 15 percent allowance for cost overruns. The council also authorized reducing the escrow for Willowbrook, Wright Neighborhoods Third Addition from $15,000 to $7,962, per the recommendation of the city engineer.
• approved advertising for bids for storm water and alley drainage improvements at 234 River St. N. The project is estimated at $10,500.
• received an update from building official Scott Dornfeld regarding a hazardous building order for 260 River St. N. Dornfeld reported the property owner, his attorney, an adjuster, and an attorney for the insurance company will be inspecting the property soon. The council had requested for the project to be completed by the end of November, and Dornfeld said the property owner wants it completed by then, as well.
• learned about the Willing Workers and Franklin Friends 4-H clubs, which collectively have more than 100 members in and around Delano.