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County planning commission hears new request for solar array permit

The McLeod County Planning and Zoning Advisory Commission is recommending approval of a re-application for a conditional use permit for a solar garden near Winsted.
The recommendation, which will be acted upon by the County Board on March 20, came after a lengthy public hearing Wednesday morning, Feb. 28.
Hal Gavin, representing Renesola Power Holdings, told the commission that the company had been approved for a permit last year to install a 3-megawatt community solar array on property owned by Patty Karels in Winsted Township, located along 230th Street near Cardinal Avenue.
However, the company didn’t get the project started within the one-year lifespan of the permit, so it had to apply.
“We didn’t have the manpower to put in this site in 2017,” said Gavin. “But we’re ready now and we’re hoping to be breaking ground by the end of March, and be operational by the end of the year.”
There have been a few changes since last year, said Gavin, most notably that there will be fewer poles. Instead of 10 poles, there will only be two poles, one of which will be located 25 feet deep into the Karels’ driveway.
Access to the solar field, which will be located on about 30 acres of land south of the residential property, will be through the Karels’ driveway, which will be widened appropriately to accommodate any equipment that needs to access the solar field for construction or maintenance.
Larry Gasow, county zoning administrator, said that the Winsted Township Board of Supervisors had some concerns, particularly about stray voltage, signage and screening.
For more about the planned solar garden, see the March 7 print edition of The Chronicle.