A $38 to $45 million dollar development project may be driving it’s way into Rice County, literally. The Commissioners were presented with a unique opportunity at their work session yesterday morning. District 2 Commissioner Galen Malecha explains the Rice County Auto Country Club. It’s similiar to a golf country club but for car enthusiasts. There is one in Chanhassen but it has no driving track. The one in Rice County would. There are only about 10 of these in the U.S. Currently the developers are looking at 2
Minnesota locations but have expressed more interest in Rice County as it would be located off I-35 and Co. Rd. 1, a straight shot south from the Twin Cities. This isn’t a Raceway such as Elko. Malecha said the project would include a 25,000 sq. ft. clubhouse, 300 condos (a combination of separate residences and car condos to store their cars and have a kitchenette and living space). They expect to draw between 400 and 600 car enthusiasts. The development would include a mechanics shop and a body shop that caters to high end cars such as Lamborghinis and Porsches. But the club would include the classics too. Another addition would include a car auction house on site. The private Auto Country Club would be open 1 day a week for the general public as well. Developers will be meeting with County staff next week to flesh out other details. They already have letters of agreement from multiple owners of the land which is about 400 acres. Malecha says they’re interested in starting construction in 2018 with an opening in 2019. The whole concept would be phased. We’ll be hearing more on this as there will be Public Hearings and neighborhood meetings in Forest Township. Permitting, rezoning and other studies must also be done. Malecha’s full interview is on kymnradio.net.
Nfld Council votes yes on solar subscription
The Northfield City Council approved a subscription to Community Solar but the council wasn’t in complete agreement. The vote was 4 to 2, with C. Colby absent. Northfield will purchase 1.5 MW worth of solar power from Minnesota Community Solar, one of three companies vying for the opportunity. MN Community Solar is being sold by Northfield Area Community Solar. They had a time limit to get construction underway. It’s a 25 year contract. Administrator Ben Martig said it’s standard length. He said the biggest risk is if Xcel Energy prices really go down, then you could see increases of cost of power. They looked at historical projections. Martig said staff will continue to gather information and work out details. 1.5 MW is about 27% of the City operations total power usage. They are still looking at the other 2 proposals. Legislative changes coming next year will lower the incentives for cities to subscribe to solar power. Councilor DeLong voted against the contract. He wanted to know where their complete energy use plan is, what about geo thermal? What about wind? What about hydro? He added, “Where’s our plan? But more than that, this has been a hurried rushed thing and we can wait. There’s only one company that can’t seem to wait, and that would be Minnesota Community Solar”. Northfield Area Community Solar said they will donate all their commissions back to the community. DeLong called them paid lobbyists. He supports clean energy with a plan. Councilor Ness also voted against it citing the length of the contract and obligating future councils. There will be negotiations yet on the contract and it will come back to Council in August.
Northfield sweeps Rice County Fair Royalty
Three Northfielders are Rice County Royalty. Coronation was last night for the Rice County Fair Queen and attendants. 19 year old Lauren Wieber was crowned Queen. She graduated from Northfield High School in 2016. Lauren’s attending Bethel University studying art and business. She works as a transcriptionist at Wieber Physical Therapy in Faribault. Sixteen-year-old Gretchen Hohrmann was named first attendant. She’ll be a senior at Northfield High School this year, works at Caribou Coffee in Northfield and has been active in 4-H for 12 years and in FFA for a year. And 16 year old Madison Jenrich, was crowned second attendant. She’ll be a junior at Randolph High School and works at the YMCA in Northfield as a camp counselor. She enjoys FFA and 4-H.