August 19th, 2014
Last night was the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Committee. On the Agenda was the new Solar Ordinance, something we need to get moving on, but which needs work.
Here are the Comments I sent, though not until 2:50 p.m. yesterday:
There was an open house before hand, and then the PAC meeting and a hearing on it. This was a noticed “Public Hearing,” the purpose of which is to take comments on the Proposed Ordinance, not the price of solar, or interesting new designs, but on their proposed Ordinance. There were a few commentors, most of whom had energy infrastructure siting experience. Everyone was on point and specific, and it didn’t last all that long.
Bernie Overby was being his usual inciteful self — someday soon, Bernie, we’ve got to have a chat about what your nephew is hauling with the lime green large car and that shiny steel trailer.
But in deliberations and discussion, Dan “Wrongzigel” started with a low key rant about the number of comments and the detail (hello? We’re supposed to be commenting on the specific Ordinance, anything else would be off point!) as if that’s a problem, and then goes off about the U.S. Constitution and how it’s vague, doesn’t even specify the number of Supreme Court justices, and then there’s Russia trying to control everything down to the last detail, “and guess who’s still around.” So was the implication that attention to detail means collapse, that we commentors are Communists, that there’s too much information for him to handle, too much effort to fill in the blanks, that considering issues raised might slow down his steamroller, or ?? What do you mean, Dan?
And these comments from a teacher who “teaches classes such as Honors American Government… [who] takes great pride in bringing government into his classrooms.“ Wrongzigel’s taken some notes and proceeds to diss almost every comment, one by one, waving it away with his hand, towards Bernie, saying “we can deal with that in the CUP.” And he even argued against setting some guidelines for how much ag land could be taken out of production by saying,”we’re for preserving agriculture, not preserving ag land.” This, Mr. Wrongzigel, is a topic for some discussion — what exactly do you mean? What’s the race to get this Ordinance through? Whose interest are you representing?
And Dan, on August 18, 2014, looking at the state of our Constitution, can you really “guess who’s still around.”
Yeah, right, Dan, look around… our Constitution has been shot full of holes… Yesterday was not the day to make such a bizarre statement!
August 12th, 2014
August 6th, 2014
The Comment Period for scoping for the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement has been extended until August 22, 2014. Really, here’s the quote from their site:
Comment Period Extended
In response to public interest, the comment period on the Scoping Booklet/Draft Scoping Decision Document is being extended to August 22, 2014, an additional 16 days.
And their press release:
So get to it and get your comment in:
or mail to:
For more info go to www.goziprail.org and for high speed passenger rail generally, with more technical info than you’ll find on the Zip site, try Midwest High Speed Rail Association, and make sure to look at their “Studies/White Papers” page.
August 6th, 2014
August 1st, 2014
Nearly 400! And asking questions that need to be asked, and expecting answers about a project that could have immense impact and even more cost! “The people” get it.
Comments due by August 6, 2014. Send comments to:
MN DOT Passenger Rail Office ATTN: Zip Rail 395 John Ireland Boulevard, MS 470 St. Paul, MN 55155
So last night, I’m at the Zip Rail meeting, blasted down from Red Wing, greeted everyone at the door, handed out some flyers, didn’t have nearly enough, and was standing in the back listening to the same ol’, same ol’ rap, on and on. Chuck Michael, then Garneth Peterson, then Chuck again, yawn… and getting irritated hearing the song and dance with little of substance, so I went into the commons, the meeting was broadcast out there, writing out a few things to hand in, zzzzzzzzzzz … it’s pushing 7, meeting end time, and I’m following the discussion, nothing exciting, winding down, so I hit the road. I felt good about getting some questions and info on how to comment into people’s hands. All in a day’s work…
But DAMN! Left too soon!!! This meeting, the people stood up and let them know what they were thinking!
Here’s the report in the Post Bulletin:
It was the fourth area meeting of the week on the proposed high-speed rail connecting Rochester to the Twin Cities, but the first in which many rural residents of Dodge and Goodhue counties weighed in. People packed the auditorium and let project manager Chuck Michael have it during a biting, free-flowing exchange that went an hour over the scheduled time — and could have gone much longer had the school’s janitorial staff not stepped in to clear out the building.
Michael, who led much milder discussions earlier this week in Rochester and Inver Grove Heights, was able to keep his sense of humor while being put through what one audience member described as a “buzzsaw” of questions and critiques.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, was among those who implored citizens to attend the meeting and voice their concerns regarding the project, which carries an unknown price tag and remains years away from fruition — if it ever becomes reality. The issues raised by citizens were varied, but most centered around one main theme: How is this project going to benefit anyone outside of Olmsted County and the Twin Cities? The questions echoed a point previously made by Dodge County commissioner Steven Gray.
Zip Rail officials are seeking public opinion, as part of the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, to help select a preferred route for the train, which would reach speeds of 220 mph. Eight potential paths are being considered that would connect a terminal in downtown Rochester with a northern hub at the Minneapolis International Airport and/or the Union Depot in St. Paul.
The proposed paths either parallel U.S. 52 or Minnesota Highway 56 and would involve acquisition private land through eminent domain. That issue inflamed rural residents, many of whom have fought similar legal battles in recent years over CapX2020 transmission lines and wind turbine projects.
“I can’t believe these people,” said Greg Soule, a Goodhue County resident who collected a list of about 50 names after the meeting to start a Zip Rail opposition group. “It’s like they want us to be their donkeys and not get a thing for it.”
Michael and Minnesota Department of Transportation official Garneth Peterson attempted to explain the need for the project to an unreceptive crowd. Michaels said 40,000 employees commute to Rochester on a daily basis, and that number is expected to grow to 70,000 by 2034, thanks to Destination Medical Center.
Hader farmer Heather Arndt, who said she’s spent 100 hours studying Zip Rail in the past two months, offered a withering critique of those numbers. If the Zip Rail is aimed at daily commuters with one-way tickets costing about $30, a full year on that system would cost more than $14,000 and would simply cut the commute time roughly in half.
Michael then asked Arndt to summarize the rest of her point, which drew the crowd’s ire. She continued for nearly 10 more minutes before receiving a standing ovation from many in the audience and setting the tone for the rest of the night.
Drazkowski and Goodhue County commissioner Dan Rechtzigel were more succinct in their criticism, but no less pointed. Rechtzigel said placing the rail parallel to Highway 56 would require blocking off 24 intersections, while the U.S. 52 option would mean blocking more than 40.