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ITC site needs a CUP

By Staff | Oct 27, 2014

Within the past few months, several landowners in Faribault County have expressed their concern and dread over ITC?Midwest’s upcoming installation of a large electric transmission line spanning 73 miles of southern Minnesota’s prime farmland.

Some residents have been able to rest easy knowing that construction will not begin until 2016; however, ITC?Midwest has already begun their move into Faribault County.

During last Tuesday’s Faribault County Board of Commissioners meeting, Michele Stindtman, the Faribault County Planning and Zoning program administrator, addressed her discovery of an unauthorized staging ground outside of the city of Wells.

ITC Midwest, the company behind the construction of a new high-voltage electric transmission line in southern Minnesota, has set up a staging ground on a piece of property annexed by the city of Wells.

According to mn.gov, staging areas are required in 25 mile increments along the route to serve as a delivery and storage ground for construction equipment.

However, the staging area in question is not actually on the route; therefore, ITC needed to obtain rights to use the land from the affected landowners.

“They would have asked the city for permission because it’s city property,” said Commissioner Bill Groskreutz addressing an inquiry as to who gave ITC permission to use the grounds.

“But the city doesn’t have the authority to approve use because it’s outside the city limits; even if it is their property.”

Because the property is outside of city limits, the area still requires a conditional use permit (CUP) as issued by Faribault County Planning and Zoning.

The piece of land being used by ITC is zoned A2, or a general agriculture site. The property includes three waste water ponds, a number of quonset huts, a rifle range and the ITC staging ground.

Stindtman spoke to Wells city administrator Robin Leslie about the unauthorized site and Stindtman suggested acquiring a conditional use permit that umbrellas the three areas the ITC staging ground, the waste ponds and the rifle range.

“Anything in A2 a rifle range, a waste pond, pretty much anything needs a conditional use permit,” Stindtman said. “It’s very black and white and we just need it to be taken care of.”

As of last Tuesday, Stindtman had not heard from Leslie.

In other business:

Stindtman also delivered an updated tentative schedule for the completion of the county’s comprehensive plan.

According to Stindtman, the soil and water board now needs to integrate a hazard mitigation plan into he developing comprehensive plan.

“I?hate to say it, but Faribault County’s current hazard mitigation plan is outdated,”?Stindtman said. “I’d rather hold back on the comp plan so we can integrate the two now and get it right.”

Commissioner Tom Loveall expressed his concern over the lengthiness of the process and whether or not the integration would delay the release of other portions of the project proposal.

“We will still have an outline drafted for Jan. 1, so we’re not holding the other components back,” Stindtman said.

The format for the hazard mitigation plan is quite similar to that of the comprehensive design. Therefore, drafting a new proposal is not an issue, but procedure and public comment will take up valuable time.

“We will have to postpone the final comp plan, but I think that planning for mitigation now is smart because we won’t have to address it later,”?Stindtman said.