For David and Florence Minar, New Prague, Minn., their farm is their home, but also home to their cows, certified organic land, and a creamery. But, if they couldn’t keep their home out of the path of high voltage power lines, they wanted the power companies to buy the entire 138-acre property.
In a judge’s ruling Thursday, power companies were ordered to do just that, the Associated Press reported.
It has been a long and winding journey, and it may not be over. It started back in 2007, when 70,000 landowners received letters about the 700 miles of transmission line to be laid across Minnesota for the CapX2020 project by eminent domain, according to NoCapX2020.info, a blog created in opposition to the project.
The Minars at their 130-cow grass-fed, organic, Cedar Summit Farm were one of 79 requests for complete farm buyouts, rather than just the typical easement, according to a 2013 StarTribune article. 46 of those 79 requests were accepted at that time, according to a CapX2020 spokesperson.
A “Buy the Farm” law passed in the state in 1977 during another power line dispute, according to the StarTribune. The law required utilities to purchase an entire acreage if it were residential and the landowner demanded it. It had been rarely utilized, but in the final hours of the 2013 session, representatives added changes to the law with bi-partisan passage of 114-18, forcing action by utilities within 60 days of a request of a landowner, and further action by a judge within 90 days if the utilities object. The amendment also reimburses landowners and farmers for fees incurred while acquiring new land due to the eminent domain process.
The Minars court case was heard in April, with the decision being handed down on Thursday. The Minars argued that while the transmission lines only took up one acre of their property along the road, they feared health problems for their cows and aesthetic problems for their on-farm customers.
They continue to search for a location for an organic farm, creamery, and their new home.
No word yet on whether the 11 power companies that make up CapX2020 will appeal, but other cases were awaiting this decision. Within the 19-page ruling, which applied only to this case, the judge noted that the line affected the entire property since it is farmed together.
Sources: Associated Press, StarTribune