Wind energy advocate Jay Nygaard of Orono came within a hair of being jailed on Thursday on contempt of court charges.
MINNEAPOLIS – Wind energy advocate Jay Nygaard of Orono came within a hair of being jailed on Thursday on contempt of court charges. Nygaard has been involved in years of legal struggle over a wind turbine on his Rest Road property.
Nygaard has been in a legal dispute with his neighbors and the City of Orono over the device which is the largest of at least 4 turbines on the Lake Minnetonka property. Three smaller turbines are turning and generating power. The larger one has been idle for a year during the multiple court cases.
Nygaard has repeatedly been ordered to remove the turbine by courts. He took it down once, placing it like a huge lawn ornament on his small front yard. Later he put the turbine back up on its pole in the back yard, where it remains.
Nygaard was ordered to remove the turbine late last year in Hennepin County District Court. He did not arguing that everyone has a right to harvest wind energy. In January, Judge Susan Robiner held Nygaard in contempt and ordered a hearing to determine if he and his wife, Kendall, should be jailed for up to six months.
"Today, my clients were in fear of being incarcerated because the judge was going to incarcerate them for six months for having the wind turbine," said Erick Kaardal, Nygaard's attorney, "but the judge created new purge conditions that will not require them to take down (the turbine). My clients are very happy satisfying those purge conditions in the next two weeks. So, the good news is they will not be incarcerated. So, it is a win."
Robiner ordered the Nygaards to lock up the turbine and turn the keys over to the court. They also have to post bond and fees totally $11,000. They must also pay the legal fees for their neighbors.
"We will see if they abide by it," said Robert Tennant, neighbors' attorney. "I do not know that they will. I hope they will, but they have not abided by the judge's orders in the past."
Tennant said he was not discouraged by Robiner's ruling on Thursday.
"Well, they are not taking the turbine down yet," said Tennant. "So, they have got a couple of other battles and we have to wait longer but I think ultimately the turbine will come down."
Nygaard will be back in court on March 5th to show the judge he has complied with her orders.