Wealthy Minnesota town faces lawsuit for banning residents from using wind power
A couple living in Orono, Minnesota has sued the relatively wealthy city over an ordinance that prohibits them from building a wind energy system on their own property.
Jay and Kendall Nygard of Go Green Energy sued the city of Orono in Hennepin County Court last week, according to Courthouse News Service, claiming the “complete ban on small wind energy conversion systems” was pre-empted by state laws.
“It’s about my property rights,” Jay Nygard told the Star Tribune. “And I want to prevent other people from having to go through what I’ve had to.”
The Nygards have battled with the local government for more than three years. They sought a building permit to construct a 9 feet wide and 29 feet tall wind generator on their residential property in 2010, but where denied.
But they built the wind generator anyway, and were subsequently sued by the city for violating property rules. The imposing structure was built less than 5 feet from a neighbor’s property. A court ended up ordering the Nygards to remove the structure in 2013 because it posed a danger to public safety.
The Nygards’ lawsuit claims that Minnesota law permits local governments to regulate small wind energy conversion systems, but not completely prohibit them.
“The wind is not a property interest of the government; the wind, as it enters the land boundaries of a property owner, is the property interest of the person who has a right to harvest the wind to benefit himself or herself, to benefit the health and welfare of his or her family or to protect his property,” the lawsuit states.
[Wind farm via Shutterstock]