Lake Emily solar

More solar farms, like this one in Le Sueur County, are being constructed in Waseca County. (Daily News file photo)

New projects are on the horizon in the coming months in Waseca County.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Mark Leiferman presented the County Board of Commissioners with another solar farm Conditional use permit request from the Winegar Family. The conditional use permit passed unanimously through the county board after it was approved through the Waseca Planning Commission on June 6.

The Winegar family is planning to construct a 1-megawatt community solar garden on a property in Waseca County through Novel Energy Solutions. They will be in contract with Xcel Energy through the solar rewards community program and the solar garden is anticipated to deliver local energy to the surrounding community for 25 plus years.

This solar garden will be located in the A-1 Agricultural Protection District and the airport overlay district to the west of Waseca on Old Hwy. 14, a half mile from Waseca in St. Mary Township.

During the Planning Commission meeting June 6, there were several concerns brought up and discussed surrounding the latest proposed garden.

The first issue was road access — the facility will require its own entrance road. Other issues included nearby wetlands, erosion control, sound emitted by the project, proximity to residential use, glare, signage and decommissioning.

A glare setting has been applied for to help offset the potential glare from the tracking panels. There will also need to be a decommissioning plan created for the project, meaning the developers will need to show what will happen at the end of the garden’s useful life.

At the county board meeting, Leiferman again read the request to the county officials, but unlike some of the recent solar farm conditional use permit requests, the board did not discuss much about the project.

The board was primarily concerned about it having a stormwater plan and that it meets state, federal and local requirements as well as setbacks from property lines. Another concern the board shared with the Planning Commission, was the noise levels of the tracking panels but it was found and stated by Novel representative Paula Fitzgerald that, at 500 feet, there are no noticeable sounds.

The board also discussed the addition of trees to help hide the solar panels from a nearby house. There was no public comment in regards to the project.

“There’s no comment because (the neighbors) are not going to see it (solar farm) anyway,” County Commissioner DeAanne Malterer said due to the typography of the land that has a slope.

Once the board was satisfied that the project was within the required parameters, it unanimously approved the conditional use permit for the solar farm to move forward.

Janesville Highway Shop

A new Janesville highway shop building is in the works.

During the July 2 board meeting bids for the project were opened with the county receiving six bids. The board voted to accept, on Waseca County Engineer Nathan Richman’s recommendation, the bid from Brennan Construction of Mankato. This company offered the lowest bid at about $485,000.

“Given the market, we got some very competitive bids,” County Administrator Jessica Beyer said.

“I’m very pleased by them,” Commissioner Doug Christopherson said.

The budget Richman spoke of for the project is about $500,000 making this accepted bid in the range of where the county would like to be. This cost, however, does not include everything that will be needed for the project.

The demolishing of the existing shop along with a gas tank and new salt shed are not included in the $485,000 bid.

Waseca County uses ISG Engineering firm out of Mankato, and Senior Project Manager Bob Mickelson was also present for the county meeting to support the pick of Brennan Construction as he is familiar with its work. Brennan Construction estimates Nov. 15, 2019 for completion of the project.

“Another step, another mile-stone,” Mickelson said about the shop bid being accepted.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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