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More turbine talk at city council workshop

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More turbine talk at city council workshop
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

The city of Woodbury continued to talk turbines last week.

The Woodbury City Council held a workshop Wednesday, Sept. 17 to discuss the possibility of developing an ordinance that would allow the South Washington County School District to build a 185-foot wind turbine at East Ridge High School.

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The city's current ordinance restricts wind turbines to 45 feet, but city planners have been more than open to exploring whether to create an ordinance that would allow the school district to construct what is considered a turbine that would be intermediate in size.

District 833 officials have said the turbine is planned to be constructed on the south end of the East Ridge property. The school is planned to open fall 2009 and district 833 officials said their hope is to use the wind turbine to power up to 50 percent of the school's energy.

On Monday the Woodbury Planning Commission discussed the issue for the second time in a month.

The meeting also gave district officials a chance to reiterate their position that a turbine would be a great addition to the school and for the community.

"As you consider your wind turbine ordinance we want you to know that the school district believes constructing a wind turbine will meet what we believe to be the three Es of sustainable development," said Mike Vogel, assistant to District 833 Superintendent Tom Nelson. "It will economically beneficial, educationally sound and energy conserving."

Vogel also spoke at the council workshop discussion and answered questions from council members and responded to criticism from some residents and landowners near the East Ridge property who believe the turbine is not a good fit for the residential area.

One of those opposed to the proposed turbine is Tim Thone, a longtime Woodbury resident and owner of 175 acres of land just south of the East Ridge property at Pioneer Drive and Bailey Road. Thone said he and adjacent land owner Inez Oehlke plan to develop their properties into a residential community that could hold as many as 1,000 new homes.

"I'm all for renewable energy," said Thone, "but there's a time and a place (for a wind turbine) and it shouldn't go in an urban area with houses."

Thone reiterated a point his attorney made last month about the fact that if the wind turbine is constructed it would hinder the appeal of his property to national homebuilders.

"There's four national companies that we've been talking to that said they want to build, but said specifically they will not build here near a wind turbine," Thone said.

The council gave direction to its planning and administrative staff to continue to explore the issue of whether a creation of a turbine ordinance would fit any location in Woodbury. In the meantime council members are planning a field trip to see a wind turbine of similar size in Maple Grove. The turbine, which is in a commercial district, is owned by Great River Energy.

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