Assessment approval moves electrical project forward
WORTHINGTON — The Nobles County Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously during its Wednesday meeting to recommend approval of an environmental assessment made by Great River Energy, an electrical company based in Maple Grove.
The commission’s approval was the first step for a proposed project that would replace about four miles of existing electrical lines in and around Worthington.
“It will exit Worthington Public Utilities’ substation where it currently exits, down to Oxford Street — (it) goes about a mile east on Oxford Street where it turns north, crosses Interstate 90 and continues on for a couple miles and then terminates,” said Dale Aukee, field representative for Great River Energy, of the project.
Nobles County Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith clarified that the commission’s vote was not to give permission for the project. Rather, it was the first in a long line of requirements Great River Energy must fulfill before beginning work.
“Tonight this is just the approval of the recommendation that we move the environmental assessment along,” Smith said.
The environmental assessment, required by the state of Minnesota for any electrical lines more than 100 kilovolts and presented by Great River Energy, described the proposed project, summarized regulatory details and outlined various environmental considerations commonly impacted by similar projects.
Numerous agencies were contacted, and their responses were also incorporated into the environmental assessment.
The process for receiving approval for the project will be similar to the one used for the transmission line installed two years ago that runs parallel to Interstate 90.
“The environmental assessment is not an environmental worksheet, and it is not an environmental impact study,” Aukee stressed. “It is a very small review of the project and what the potential impacts of the project are.”
“What will happen now is we’ll review this and then move it on to the county board for publication statewide,” Smith explained. “Then we’ll see what kind of comments we get, and it will also give Great River Energy time to contact landowners and work out some agreements with them.”
The project is anticipated to come before the Planning and Zoning Commission again during its regular October meeting, when additional public comment will be heard.
The commission unanimously voted to recommend the approval of the environmental assessment Tuesday at the next Nobles County Board of Commissioners meeting.
In other items:
- Dustin DeBoer’s request for a conditional use permit for construction of a cattle barn to house 200 head of cattle and an underground manure storage pit in Little Rock Township was unanimously approved. Questions raised by a neighboring landowner about manure disposal and possible odor issues were answered by Al Langseth, Nobles County Feedlot Officer, who said there should be no problem if the project is done according to plan.
- Brian Lindemann’s request for a conditional use permit for operating a gravel pit and hot mix plant, located in Little Rock Township, was unanimously approved. Public comment was submitted to the commission regarding dust control.
- Kevin Altman’s request for an interim feedlot permit was unanimously approved. Altman’s request was brought before the Zoning and Planning Commission at the July 24 meeting, during which concerns were raised about runoff from Altman’s feedlot. A horseshoe-shaped berm with an eight-inch drain was constructed to hold back any runoff until a more permanent solution can be funded.