SARTELL -- Plans to convert two open developments into a solar garden are starting to take shape.

Planning and Community Development director Anita Rasmussensays the city has been in talks with SolarStone for the last several months on the potential development.

Proposed area where solar garden may sit. (Photo: Sartell City Hall)

"The idea being able to have some sort of alternative energy source and being able to utilize this under-use property seemed like a good opportunity to explore with SolarStone in the development of solar energy," says Rasmussen.

Earlier this week, the city reached a land lease agreement with SolarStone for a 35 year agreement at $800 per acre on the 40 total acres (the former Grede landfill and a former city lagoon).

"So we are getting land lease revenue from them installing solar facilities and solar panels. So there is opportunity to get revenue on a property we wouldn't otherwise get revenue on, including tax revenue on the property," says Rasmussen.

The Solar Garden would been hidden from residents view and if development continues around the area (near the Public Works Building), the solar panels would hardly be noticed from the road.

Rasmussen says there is still hurdles to cross including a public hearing on the Conditional Use Permit on the site, which will affect residents within 350 feet of the site.

"There is still additional land use applications they have to go through including the conditional use permit to allow for a utility station to be located in this property," says Rasmussen.

Details on whether the city wants to go into an energy agreement with SolarStone is still being discussed at this time.

She says the public hearing on the CUP could begin as early as June and if the process runs smoothly construction on the Solar Garden could begin this fall.


Sites of the future Solar Gardens in Sartell. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)