You can't stop the breezes from blowing, but officials in Andover hope to set standards to guide those who hope to harness that wind.
Over the past year, several residents have approached the city with interest in installing wind turbines on their property or with concerns that turbines would create noise, vibration or other disturbances near their homes.
To date, no turbines have been installed in the city.
Still, officials thought the city should be in position to deal with the issue, said Angie Perera, associate planner for Andover. The City Council will vote Tuesday on regulations that have been called a variation on rules set by nearby Oakdale. If the rules are approved, Andover will join Oakdale, Anoka, Plymouth, Cottage Grove and Maple Grove among metro-area cities with ordinances on wind turbines.
After studying several ordinances and seeking information from the Minneapolis research group Windustry, Andover looked to Oakdale's rules. They're somewhat more restrictive, and Perera said it seemed to make sense to take a conservative approach while the technology still is developing.
"They're still looking into new ways of making sound and vibration less of a concern factor," she said. "The planning commission seemed to be wanting to be more restrictive since this is a newer technology. Since we don't currently allow or prohibit them, we preferred to be more cautious with the ordinance, with the idea we could always amend it later if we choose."
She also said that, considering the cost of installation -- at least $50,000 -- it's important to create the ordinance now, before residents start making big investments.
The draft ordinance defines a commercial "wind energy conversion system" as one producing 40 kilowatts or more and a residential system as one producing less than 40 kilowatts.
Some of the restrictions include:
•No more than one turbine is permitted per lot.
•Turbines must be set back 300 feet or 1.5 times their height, whichever is greater, from property lines, roads, homes, schools and recreational fields. The blades must clear treetops by at least 30 feet.
•They must have an automatic shutoff and warning signs, including emergency contact information.
•They must comply with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requirements for noise and with other government building requirements for height, radio and airplane interference and more.
•They are exempt from the city's height restrictions.
Installing a turbine will require a conditional use permit. That process, which takes at least a month, requires a public hearing and approval by the planning commission and City Council.
Roof-mounted turbines will be allowed only outside the Municipal Urban Service Area, the most densely populated part of the city, and will not be allowed to extend more than 15 feet above the host structure.
No wind turbines will be allowed on parcels along the Scenic River Way.
Andover may not be ideally situated for wind energy production, however. Perera found that, while ideal wind speed minimums are around 15 miles per hour, the city's average wind speed is closer to 9 mph.
Agricultural windmills are exempt from the restrictions.
And if you're worried about the decorative windmill spinning merrily in the back garden, those are exempt, too.
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409
At their last council meeting, Andover officials approved a broadband antenna at Shadowbrook East Park and rejected one at Lions Park.