lentvote

From ECM article…

On Monday, citizens of Lent Township organized a Special Meeting, as allowed under statute, and told the Town Board what they thought of LS Power’s Sunrise River Energy Station.  The hands raised you see in the photo is the vote telling the board that they should not approve a development agreement with LS Power.

The people say NO, but the township, the following day, went ahead and approved the Development Agreement:

Power Plant Gets Township Approval

And a view from the trenches:

We the PEOPLE – found in the Fish Lake Karpa

And here’s the report from the Post Review:

Citizens’ vote was to nix power plant


By MaryHelen Swanson

There were a few empty chairs, but if those standing at the back of the room had all wanted to sit, the attendance would still be considered “standing room only.”

lent meeting1.jpgThat was the scene at Lent Town Hall Monday night as a special citizen-petitioned meeting got underway.

The folks were divided by Lent residency and non-residency.

There were separate sign-in sheets and designated seating areas.

Called to order by Lent Township Clerk Laura LeVasseur, it soon became the people’s meeting when they elected Mark Koran moderator.

First order of business was the Pledge of Allegiance.

With the agenda adopted, resident Dave Milles introduced a resolution which was adopted by the people with no audible nays.

Milles went on to read the resolution.

It noted three things that were expected to happen that night:
• openly and publicly review and discuss the final draft of the development agreement by and among Lent Township and Sunrise River Energy, LLC (also known as LS Power) prior to any official vote of the Lent Township board to approve and/or sign the development agreement;

• to present and vote on a resolution requiring a public referendum on the question of approval or disapproval of any development agreement by the township and energy group prior to any official vote of the Lent township board to approve and/or sign the development agreement;

• and to present and vote on a resolution requiring Lent Township board to comply with the results of the referendum when taking any action or vote to approve and or sign the development agreement.

All of the above was accomplished Monday night.

But early on in the meeting, Milles noted that the attorney hired by Lent Township to represent them in this power plant issue, Troy Gilchrist, had posted a 5-page letter on the township’s Web site last Friday in which it was stated that “the electors do not have the authority to control the decision of whether to enter into the agreements or to direct the terms of the agreement. Nor do the electors have the authority to require the Town to hold an election on the issue of whether the Town Board should enter into these agreements.

Because the Town Board holds the exclusive power to enter into the agreements, any election on the issue would constitute an advisory election which is prohibited under Minnesota law. Again, the Town Board could not call an election on this issue even if it wanted to.”

Milles said that was not the opinion of those signing the petition on the vote.

Koran accepted a motion to adopt the resolution and it was adopted by the group.

The crowd settled into silence as they listened to speakers from LS Power and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens.

Blake Wheatley was first, representing LS Power, giving a brief overview of the proposed project – the construction in Lent Township of a 726 MW electric generating plant, including recent changes, benefits and timelines.

He noted that his company is hoping for approval of the development agreement (between LS Power, Chisago County and Lent Township) and the host agreement (between Chisago County, Lent Township and the North Branch school district) within the next 60 days.

LS Power would complete engineering studies and then be applying for permits from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Representing the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, resident Rob Kravitz listed some 11 reasons why the township should vote no.

Briefly, he pointed out that the project is a heavy industry and doesn’t fit in the area, it doesn’t fit with Lent’s comp plan’s rural character, it would be visible to the public who don’t want the rural landscape disturbed, the plumes of exhaust from the stacks could cause problems, more transmission lines will be needed, there is no need for this power in Minnesota, as a mixed fuel plant, there are concerns about contamination of the sandy soils, no real benefit to the county, and potential increased health costs and decreased property values.

Most importantly, Kravitz said, is the reduced quality of life.

He noted that there were more than 750 names on a petition, not all from the Lent Township area, but across the county.

Up until now the audience had been quiet.

When Koran asked if anyone from the Lent Planning Commission wanted the 10 minutes to speak on the draft development agreement, no one volunteered.

Immediately David Milles was given 5 minutes to speak as a citizen who had attended the Dec. 9 joint planning commission, town board meeting where a list of 9 recommendations were reviewed for possible inclusion in the development agreement.

This was protested by a member of the audience who wanted to know by what authority Milles would speak for the town planning commission.

Milles said it was because he had talked with one of the planning commission members. He was given the floor against continuous protest.

Not that the crowd was loud, or out of control, but Koran repeatedly asked the people to “be respectful, be respectful.”

“But he doesn’t represent planning and zoning,” said the man.

Milles went on to use the five minutes to summarize, in his words, what happened at the Dec. 9 meeting, “because no one wanted to do it from the board.”

He spoke of the 9 recommendations brought forth that night and that he believed many of them were not included in the final draft of the agreement.

Koran made note that the latest version of the agreement is on the Township’s Web site.

The meeting moved into the question and answer portion.

Questions included such things as what  percent of electricity is wasted in transmission, what companies has LS Power talked with in Minnesota about using the electricity, how many other sites were considered, and about additional power lines being needed.

Wheatley, responding to that particular issue, told the crowd that if additional power lines would be needed, LS Power would reduce the size of the plant. His contention has repeatedly been that there will be no new transmission lines.

The issue of jobs was also of concern, including wages. Wheatley said of the 20 operations and maintenance technicians, it would not be far off to say they’d get $100,000/year.

Several asked questions about health, concerned with air quality, Wheatley said the air quality would be controlled.

One asked for clarification of the payment in lieu of property taxes, which had been capped by the state legislature at $600,000 ( to be split between the county, township and school district). Wheatley noted that “real” property taxes in the amount of about $1.6 million would be paid annually.

He also noted that there have been some additional funds negotiated with the local entities, including $100,000 to the county for an environmental improvement fund, $100,000 to the school district in a partners fund, and $25,000 to the township per year.

The man asking the question asked if this couldn’t be construed as buying off the community, by going above the capped contributions.

Other issues of concern were stray voltage, reduced property values around the plant, wastewater and gas pipeline access and construction of the County Road 17 extension, all of which would play a part in the coming of the plant.

And one woman politely asked if LS Power had any facility where people are clamoring to move near.

Wheatley had an answer, speaking of one location where there has been quite a bit of residential development.

First District Commissioner Lora Walker offered the citizens yet another opportunity to have a say on the plant.

She has set up an online opportunity for the citizens in Lent Township to say “approve” or “don’t approve” the agreement. (see below for details).

Results of the poll will be looked at at the end of January. She said the county auditor would verify names.

She wants to know, she said, if the Lent Township folks are for or against the plant, believing they are really the ones who will be affected by it.

More public comment followed, in two-minute increments, some supporting the idea of the plant, most speaking to various aspects of quality of life.

And then the vote by show of hands of Lent Township residents only.

The question?

“Shall the Lent Township Board of Supervisors approve and sign, or disapprove and not sign any Development Agreement by and among Lent Township and Sunrise River Energy, LLC for the purpose of securing a personal property tax exemption pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 272.02, Subd. 92, as enacted by Laws of Minnesota 2009, Chapter 88 Article 2, Section 9?”

The raised hands were counted by LeVasseur and Koran.

43 said “yes” to approving and signing of the agreement.

163 said “no” to the same.

Commissioner Walker’s poll

To vote: Type one address below into your Internet browser

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/APPROVE
or

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/DENY

Deadline for signatures is Jan. 31.

One Response to “Lent Twp voters say NO! to LS Power”

  1. JAMES GAIOVNIK Says:

    Two years a handful of job’s a life time polution it just isn’t worth it no matter how you look at it We the people deserve better.

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