By Teri Knight, News Director
There was a lot of discussion around stormwater runoff during last night’s Northfield City Council meeting as they deliberated a Conditional Use Permit for a 1MW solar garden proposed by Hyacinth Solar, which is a part of Geronimo. It would be located adjacent to an existing 5MW garden on St. Olaf land. During the Planning commission meeting in January, neighboring farmers spoke of the current solar garden that is producing enough runoff to render some of their farmland useless, with no resolution from the company. That one was also built by
Geronimo but they don’t own it currently. C. DeLong questioned City Engineer Dave Bennett, who said there would native plantings and the land would drain naturally. When the gardens are built the soil can become compacted due to the equipment on it and the panels affect where the rainfall goes. A representative of Geronimo explained, “the project we’re speaking about today, yes, there is a concentrated runoff from the panels, the difference being from a house or umbrella is that the ground underneath the panels is pervious. The seed mix that we will be establishing, the native grasses, will allow that water, which runs off in sheets, yes, to settle out, slow down and infiltrate”. There are two conditions added into this resolution that were not in the 5MW solar array. That is to submit a site plan to the city engineer and that their stormwater plan be acceptable to the engineer. C. Ness was also concerned about it and Mayor Pownell asked about recourse for the farmers. C. Grabau wanted to move it forward regardless of the issues as climate change which is one of their Strategic goals with solar gardens a part of it. They voted 4 to 1 to postpone a decision until March 17th to iron out the stormwater runoff issues. Grabau voted against postponing. Administrator Martig commented this morning on the unusual amount of precipitation we’ve had that also may be playing a role in the runoff situation. For more detail click HERE to the City’s website.
St. Olaf bringing U.S. – China Relations lecture series to the public
St. Olaf College Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, Prof. Edmund Santurri, invites the public to a series of lectures with the theme of U.S. – China Relations. They include, “the recent tariff war between the U.S and China that emerged during the Trump administration, the Hong Kong political unrest and most recently the coronavirus”. There will be four events over the Spring. The first in the series is on Feb. 27th and is on the coronavirus, “and our guest speaker is a man named John V. Barry who is the author of many, many important books but among, a book entitled The Great Influenza, the story of the deadliest pandemic in history. He is an expert on pandemics”. He has extensive credentials and has worked with former Administrations. On March 4th, will be, “a session entitled China Big Data, AI and privacy with a panel of three experts”. There are multiple issues with this topic including Chinese aspirations. Listen to his full interview on kymnradio.net with details on the other two lectures coming in April.
Hwy 52 Open House in Zumbrota
The public is invited to an open house on Wednesday, March 4 in Zumbrota to learn the latest updates for the reconstruction and safety improvements of southbound Hwy 52 from just south of Cannon Falls to just north of Zumbrota. Representatives from MnDOT and its consultants will be on hand to answer questions and provide information from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.at the Zumbrota VFW, 25 E. First St., Zumbrota. Construction is set to begin in 2021. The full press release is on kymnradio.net on our Community News page.