By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN A 3-megawatt solar garden is being planned in Winsted’s industrial district, near the municipal airport.
The Winsted City Council approved a site plan and interim use permit for the array Tuesday evening.
It will be located at 23121 Babcock Avenue, and will be enclosed with a chain link fence.
Along the east and south property lines, the area will be screened with trees.
“Eventually, the site won’t be visible from the street,” City Administrator Dan Tienter said.
The interim use permit with Minnesota Solar, LLC is valid for 30 years. After that, the company would need to decommission the panels if they are not in use for 12 consecutive months.
Before the project came to the council for approval, Winsted’s planning commission conducted three meetings on this subject, Tienter said.
“The planning commission has been very diligent,” Council Member Tom Ollig added.
The agreement states that the solar garden cannot impact nearby wetlands, and audits will be performed annually to ensure compliance with all permit terms.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• adopted a resolution to activate the Economic Development Authority and sunset the Downtown Vibrancy Commission.
• authorized a land lease with Dale and Elizabeth Barfnecht to farm about six acres of land adjacent to the wastewater treatment facility for $1,200, to expire the end of December.
• authorized spending $3,000 for park system master planning.
• accepted a report for the emergency purchase of storm clean-up services not to exceed $10,000, related to the severe thunderstorm in Winsted Aug. 4.
• accepted a $50 donation of Winsted Bucks from the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce and a $50 gift card donation from Target Corporation to be dedicated to the Winsted Police Department for the 2016 Winsted Night Out event. Police Chief Justin Heldt noted that the Aug. 11 event was well attended, despite a last-minute location change due to the possibility of rain.
• authorized a contract with SafeAssure Consultants to provide a safety program for the City of Winsted, at a cost of just under $3,000.
• heard that the city’s bond report rating is “A stable” and that a few points were gained since the last rating.
• heard that the city has been working to remedy an issue at 621 Northgate, a property owned by Ron Mills.
• adopted a resolution providing for the issuance and sale of $1,675,000 in general obligation bonds at an interest rate of just over 2 percent. The majority of the bond amount will be used to finance the 2016 street reconstruction and utility project. David Drown of David Drown Associates said the deal will close Thursday, Sept. 1, and funds will be wired to the city at that time.
• heard that many people complimented the public works department for their help with clean-up and brush pickup after recent storms.
• conducted a closed session for Tienter’s annual performance review, and another closed session to discuss the purchase or sale of property. No formal action was taken after either meeting.