Hair Splitting on the Sewer Train?
At the October 8 meeting of the Board of Directors it was decided to reaffirm an earlier decision to request a public informational meeting of the County Commissioners regarding the sewer question. Much debate took place over whether to include in the request the sentence “this meeting would not be a public hearing pursuant to a process culminating in a vote by the Kandiyohi County Commissioners”.
Why the fuss? The letter was the result of a September 17 Board meeting at which it was asked whether such a hearing would put us on the “train” whose destination was a vote by the County Commissioners, the ultimate arbiter in the matter. Those who wanted an informational meeting only were concerned that a hearing was a commitment to the project. Those opposed argued that the Commissioners would listen to the opinions expressed and would not proceed without strong support. The view of the former prevailed, although at least one board member thought we were splitting hairs.
Despite the close vote, the Board unanimously agreed to work on a model assessment plan to present at the requested informational meeting. Having such a model might help property owners decide how they felt about the issue, and might speed the decision making process, one way or the other, so that those in limbo (who might be considering installing a new septic system) would know what to do. It might also serve to answer questions regarding the assessment of multiple lots, differences in system usage, assessments for future development and the use of future assessment monies. A tentative December 10 meeting was set to address the matter.
The position of the Association Board on the project as a whole is yet to be determined. At the September 17 meeting there was great uncertainty about the views of lake residents. There were also many questions about future developments: Is a sewer system inevitable? Will it bring second tier development? Have the County Commissioners already made up their mind? How do you weigh the burden of assessments on those who cannot afford it against the hardship of mound system installations for those with a limited lot size? Board member Vicki Behm put our options rather clearly: 1) we support the sewer concept, knowing that it will mean more taxes, more development and higher valuation, 2) we get all our septic systems up to date with mandated inspections, not knowing if the County would support the idea, 3) we do nothing, wondering whether it will come back later at higher cost. A fourth option is to oppose it entirely.
Property owners should watch for more information about the public informational meeting. If all goes according to the Association’s plan, it will be held sometime between Memorial Day and July 4th, 2006. To date we have not heard back from the County. In the meantime, owners can weigh in by talking with Board members. This publication welcomes opinion pieces, provided they are accurate and respectful of other views.
Is There A Future in Wind?
by Bob Meyerson
Bob Meyerson, operating under the name Diamond Wind Energy, LLC, hopes that by the time you read this his wind generator will be operational. Located on a high spot about 1 ½ miles south of Diamond Lake on 135th St., the generator is a 20 kilowatt Jacobs turbine capping a 120 foot tower. To put this in perspective, a megawatt generator of the kind you might see in southwestern Minnesota represents about 50 times this capacity. Bob estimates he will generate about 28,000 kilowatt hours in the course of a year – about twice what the average home uses.
Bob’s interest in wind energy was piqued about 2 years ago when he was surprised to learn that wind capable of generating electricity was abundant in much of Minnesota, not only along Buffalo Ridge. In fact, a corridor of good wind runs through the center of North America, from Manitoba to Texas. The entire country is mapped for wind. (Minnesota’s map can be downloaded from www.commerce.state.mn.us, then enter “Wind Maps”). Bob wondered if it would be possible to tap into this resource in Kandiyohi County. Being involved in a number of economic development groups, specifically targeting agriculture, he hoped that wind might represent an additional “crop” for family farmers, not to mention a more environmentally friendly method of generating electricity compared to nuclear or coal. And if an efficient method of storing wind generated electricity could be developed by, for example, storing it in hydrogen fuel cells, wind could help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
The jury is out on much of this. Bob has discovered that a small turbine such as his relies heavily on subsides to make it work – the local utility is required to pay him the retail rate (which is much higher than their cost of production) for the electricity generated. The federal government provides a small credit as well. Even with that, Bob does not expect to recoup his investment for some 9 years, not even counting depreciation. Regulation governing such projects as his can be formidable, ranging from Kandiyohi County Planning & Zoning to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Besides finding a good site, one must contend with set back requirements, equipment availability, line capacity, agreements with the utility, neighbors who have a right to object, and even wildlife – wind turbines should not be located in bird flyways. Aesthetics might also be an issue.
If the site proves as good as Bob expects, he hopes to look into developing a larger project, perhaps of the megawatt variety. But with that comes a ratcheting up legal, technical, financial and environmental requirements. This is not a project with quick answers or results. He hopes to report back in a few years.
Major Changes Slated for Association Board
by Fred Rescue
President Judy Christensen and Secretary Joan Schultz each announced her resignation effective August, 2006. Both have served with distinction for several years and they decided to give advance notice to allow the Board ample time to choose their successors. Personal reasons were cited for the move.
Harlan Meints has agreed to take over the thankless task of drawing up by-laws for the Association. This matter has been on the table for over a year, but has been set aside for various reasons. Harlan welcomes your assistance in this endeavor.
It was decided to establish a schedule of Board meetings for the coming year at the first Board meeting of the new year (date and place yet to be determined). This will enable interested Association members to attend. The Board sees not reason to open the meeting to non-members as all it takes is a $25 fee to belong to the Association