Washington County Woman Fighting Back Against City for Solar Farm

October 11, 2018 07:18 PM

Joyce Welander is fighting back after her request for a solar farm on her own property was denied. The Grant City Council made its decision a few ago.

But Welander said their reason isn't good enough to stop her from going green.


Welander said this century farm has been in her late husband's family since the 1890s, but a request on a card in her mailbox during the summer of 2016 wanted to convert its use.

"I looked at the card and it said, 'U.S Solar would like to visit with you and ask you some questions about some of your land,'" said Welander

She said the solar equipment business based in Minneapolis wanted to turn about 20 acres of her land into a solar farm.

The property is located near 75th Street and Manning Avenue. Welander said the company wanted to use 8 acres for solar panels, the other 12 as pollinated grass for bees.

"I thought it was great," said Welander.

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Welander said it would make her family money for generations to come.

She took the idea to City Council, but the majority turned it down - not once, but twice. 

"I suppose I could say I would almost cry, but I'd say their day is coming," said Welander

Councilman Tom Carr was one of three council members to vote the plan down. 

"I have nothing against solar, I think it's great," said Carr.

Carr said the solar farms go against the city's comprehensive plan.

"About 20 different things in the comp plan state that we keep our rural view. We keep Grant rural," said Carr. "It was everywhere."

Council member Larry Lanoux said that is not true.

"Six out the seven city planning commissioners recommended it, but our council majority have denied it, without giving any finding of facts," said Lanoux.

He said the majority of council members have other intentions for Welander's property.

"They are encouraging more home sites in Grant, which will bring in more sewer and water which is against our comprehensive plan," said Lanoux.

Welander plans to go before council members again, this time asking for factual proof solar farms are not allowed. 

"Not that I want to go anymore and stand before those guys, but I guess I have to bear it," said Welander.

She intends on speaking before council members Nov. 5.

According to Xcel Energy, there are 172 solar garden sites in Minnesota that are in the design and construction phase.  Below are the counties with the most solar gardens either being designed or under construction.


Jonathan Rozelle

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