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Property rights apply to landowners pursuing unpopular projects

Years ago, former Sen. Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, noted many people like the idea of green energy and finding a way to expand our ability to generate and transmit power without damaging the environment.
…. Of course, he said, that’s “until the power lines show up.”
The same sentiment counts for solar gardens. Solar gardens are the latest, greatest idea for increasing our capacity for generating electricity without building expansive and new power plants that potentially damage the environment. Solar garden, as the name suggests, collect the benefits of the sun and transfer the generated electricity onto the regional power grid for one and all to use.
It is unimaginable for anyone to seriously argue increased generation of electricity or power lines to carry the newly-generated power to users is unnecessary. Yet, such claims have been made. Great River Energy would not have built the CapX power lines across Minnesota, a $2 billion investment, if the lines were not necessary. There are too many items in our homes introduced since the expansion of our ability to generate green energy to legitimately claim solar gardens are not necessary.
In the recent past, landowners who sought permission to lease their land for solar gardens have been challenged by neighbors who challenged the landowner's right to use the property as they desired and as McLeod County ordinance dictates. There have been plenty of cases where neighboring landowners, including in nearby Carver County, where adjacent landowners opposed a project based, in part, on their opposition to living near a solar garden. The people there sought to deny the landowner the same right to use land as allowed by ordinance. Yet they use land as allowed by ordinance.
We are pleased to see the latest project McLeod County is considering in Helen Township has come without the opposition seen elsewhere. As long as the landowner meets the county's rules governing land uses, the project is worthy of serious consideration, even approval. Neighboring landowners should not be permitted to shut down projects because they don't want to look at it or because they fear harm from an unproven byproduct of the project. All too often, the opposition to projects like solar gardens comes from people who might live near them citing reasons not supported by county ordinance. Move the project 10 miles down the road and their opposition goes away.
McLeod County has regulations for screening the visual impact of a solar garden. Claims of stray voltage can be measured and, if the concern is warranted, mitigated. These are just a few of the rules put in place to protect neighbors. As long as the project meets these and other rules, the landowner has the right to use the land within the parameters of the approved rules.
It's a plus when a project can be placed in a location where an adjacent landowner is not impacted. Not every applicant is so fortunate.
The notion of a landowner's right to use land as he or she sees fit is a powerful right. It should only be rejected to valid and measurable reasons. Opposition based on unquantifiable factors hardly qualifies as justification for denial.