The Fillmore County Board of Adjustment met for the first time in 2019 on January 24. Steve Duxbury was elected chairman and Andy Bisek was elected vice-chairman. Meetings will continue to be scheduled for the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.
A public hearing was held on each of MiEnergy variance requests.
Chad Chaffee, MiEnergy vice president of system operations-MN, detailed three variance requests for the installation of galvanized steel monopoles at three substation locations within Fillmore County, all located in the Ag District. The poles will be a total of 145 feet in length; 25 feet will be below ground and 120 feet will be above the ground. Section 733.07 of the Fillmore County ordinance requires a setback equal to the height of the pole above ground from the property line.
Dishes will be installed on each of the poles to allow for an internal microwave communications link between the cooperative’s electrical substations. The data transfer will increase reliability of the electrical distribution system and eliminate the need for other sources of data communication. Chaffee said the intention is to build a communication loop primarily to communicate control and supervision data back to Rushford. A licensed frequency will be used.
Chaffee suggested that at some point they may be able to push broadband service from the towers.
During the variance hearing for a tower in Section 32, Arendahl Township, a gentleman had a question about the frequency to be used and if it would interfere with his free television service. Chaffee didn’t believe that it would create any disturbances, but assured him, if it gets to be a concern, we will work with you.
The poles will be located outside the substation fencing. They will be self supporting with no guide wires and the equipment will be high enough on the pole not to interfere with farm equipment. There was no comment from township supervisors. A 76-foot variance from the south property line was approved.
During the variance hearing for a tower in Section 15, Fountain Township, there was no comment from township supervisors. Loren Finseth asked how close the pole will be to the property line. Chaffee said it will be 29 foot north of the property line and 30 foot from the substation fence. The request for a 91-foot variance from the south property line was approved.
During the variance hearing for a tower in Section 24, Spring Valley Township, Tom Lentz asked if the driveway will be maintained and kept open. Chaffee assured him that the substation access will not change and the same maintenance will continue. Mitch Lentz asked if there will be any lights. Chaffee said there will not be. Installation will start in March or April depending on the weather. Soil borings will be done by March.
Mitch Lentz said he supported what MiEnergy is doing and encourages them to get into the broadband business as soon as possible, adding that the area is very underserved. There was no comment from township supervisors. Approval was given for a 48-foot variance from the south property line and a 33-foot variance from the east property line.
Zoning administrator Cristal Adkins said the next Planning Commission meeting will be held on February 28 to consider conditional use permits for the communication towers. Chaffee asked if they can go ahead and do the soil borings before then; Adkins said they could.