BY SUSAN VAN CLEAF
"The difference between small wind and big wind is huge," said Dave Eid, as the Medina City Council questioned him about what is happening with wind turbine technology.
The City Council, at the Tuesday, June 5 meeting, was considering whether or not to call for a yearlong moratorium on issuance of conditional use permits (CUPs) for wind turbines. Eid was in the audience with his colleague Mike Woodley, of Renewable Energy SD, Excelsior, a company that sells wind turbines.
After a lengthy discussion, city councilors decided to enact a moratorium. City Planner Dusty Finke said he expected to bring a revised ordinance before the City Council in late July or early August, thus making possible an early lifting of the moratorium.
The difference between small wind and big wind might be a key issue, as Medina researches potential changes to its wind turbine ordinance.
Eid’s current project is a concrete example of small wind. Renewable Energy SD is representing Hannah Buckley who wants to install a 189-foot, 39.9 kilowatt wind turbine on 30 acres at 1582 Homestead Trail.
A couple of years ago Hennepin County proposed a big wind project for its public works facility, located south of Highway 55 in Medina. The county wanted to install a 407-foot tall, three-megawatt wind turbine, according to Planner Finke.
City Councilor Elizabeth Weir commented that Medina residents put up "tremendous resistance" to the Hennepin County project. This was one reason that she favored the moratorium.
Mayor Tom Crosby said he wanted to know more about recent wind turbine technology and residential systems that are available. He also thought public comment on potential ordinance changes was important.
Woodley said Buckley is spending $2,000 a month on electricity. His company is in business to help customers save money on electrical bills in the long run.
Eid said the goal is for owners of small wind turbines to produce enough electricity for their own needs plus a little extra. Their equipment typically pays for itself after about eight years. He commented that there is a big difference between these smaller systems and wind farms.
He added that his company’s systems are all electronic and that there is no comparison between new systems and those of 20 years ago. For about 16 months, Renewable Energy has been selling a wind turbine that has no gearbox. Because most wind turbine noise comes from the gearbox, this means that the new systems are quiet.
The City Council also took up other business on June 5. Here are some meeting highlights.
GUN CLUB REQUEST
City Councilors listened to the plight of William Kroll, who wants the opportunity to shoot pistols with his brothers and their families on his property at 2382 Pioneer Trail. Until recently, Kroll did not know that Medina city ordinances require a gun club license for this type of activity. Someone called Medina Police during one of his family gatherings. And his education process began.
Kroll asked the City Council to approve a private gun club license to shoot up to a .45 caliber firearms on his property. The application calls for no more than five people shooting at any one time no more than 10 times per year.
He explained that only one person shoots at a time at his family gatherings. Twice a year shooting might last for three to four hours. The rest of the time shooting might last about an hour. Shooters aim at targets that are set up at the base of a hill, and rounds go into the hill. Kroll preferred to hold the gatherings on his property because it is more private than nearby gun clubs.
Three Medina residents said they opposed the gun club license because of the potential noise – Norma Fredricks, Jennie Goelz and Tom Sicheneder. Meanwhile, city officials received two letters supporting the application from neighbors of Kroll and several letters opposing it.
Medina Police Chief Ed Belland said he has received complaints about noise created at the gun club located on County Road 6 in Orono. He added that, according to Medina ordinances on discharge of firearms, Kroll could shoot skeet on his property all day long.
City Councilor Mike Siitari, who is a former Edina Police Chief, said that many types of firearms fall under the classification of .45 caliber or smaller – including some rifles. Also, safety factors, including shooting stray rounds of ammo need to be considered.
"Why do we open up this can of worms to allow shooting in the city?" Siitari said. "There are too many downsides to this."
After a lengthy discussion, the City Council decided to table Kroll’s private gun club application.