Orono man willing to go to jail to keep contested wind turbine


An Orono, Minnesota, man says he's willing to go to jail to keep a homemade wind turbine in his yard.

Jay Nygard put up the 29-foot-tall wind turbine in 2010, sparking a three-year legal battle that's included at least eight lawsuits between Nygard, the city of Orono and his neighbors on Lake Minnetonka, the Star Tribune reports.

For years the city has said Nygard needs to remove the turbine because he built it without proper permits and it's threat to public safety, while his neighbors have argued the turbine is a nuisance, reports say.

It's since sparked a series of legal battles: Nygard sued the city for his right to keep the turbine, but lost in lower court. He then won an appeal, which sent the lawsuit back to lower court, where he ultimately lost again and was ordered to remove the turbine – which he didn't do, KSTP reports.

Then, last December, Orono passed an ordinance prohibiting all wind energy conversion systems in the city, the Star Tribune says. But Nygard said that violates state law, so he sued again this spring.

Nygard said he's willing to go to jail to fight for his individual property rights and free enterprise, FOX 9 reports. Nygard's company, Go Green Energy, sells wind turbines in other Minnesota communities and he wants the opportunity to do the same in Orono.

At the beginning of June, a district judge ordered that Nygard and his wife must remove the turbine. If Nygard doesn't want to go to jail, one of two things has to happen by Wednesday: He has to remove the turbine, or the court of appeals has to stay his order for jail time. Otherwise he'll have to serve a six-month sentence, KSTP says.

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals will allow an Orono man to keep his residential wind turbine that city officials say violates the zoning ordinance. The turbine is not as large as those seen in rural Minnesota and Iowa, homeowner Jay Nygard's machine is a vertical-axis turbine about 20 feet high.