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McLeod County planning commission holds public hearing on solar garden

The McLeod County Planning Advisory Commission held a public hearing during its regular meeting Jan. 27 to discuss a conditional use permit for a community solar garden in Winsted Township.
The permit is being applied for by CleodSun LLC on behalf of SunShare LLC. The garden would be built on property owned by Steinkraus Lester Prairie LLC off Highway 7 and would be 25 acres. The area will have a 6-foot chain-link fence and gravel access for maintenance trucks.
The garden power will be run to the electrical grid of Xcel Energy
The permit was presented by SunShare Senior Manager of Prospecting and Land Acquisition David Bergh and Project Development Associate Alison Smyth.
The public hearing was attended by several residents of Winsted Township. Joe Neaton, who lives directly next door to the proposed garden, said that from what he found, there are no ordinances in place for solar gardens and asked the commission how it will be regulated. Zoning Administrator Larry Gasow explained the commission can add terms onto the conditional use permit.
Neaton and several others expressed concern about the possibility of stray voltage on the site. Bergh said that is something that would be an Xcel issue.
Bonita Rehmann expressed anger that farmland was being taken out of production for the solar garden.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “You can’t think through how this is going to affect the farm people. Shame on all of you.”
Gasow explained the property will still be zoned as agriculture and can be converted back to agriculture. For more from the hearing, see the Feb. 3 print edition of The Chronicle.