Jay and Kendall Nygard, creators of the most hated non-working wind turbine in Orono, went to court Thursday expecting jail time for refusing to dismantle their front yard decor. Instead, Judge Susan Robiner took pity and told them to just lock up the turbine and turn over the key.
Orono had previously ordered the Nygards to take down their DIY wind turbine because it violated the city's zoning codes. The Nygards turned to state law in defense, which in turn slapped Orono on the wrist for trying to enact a blanket ban on all turbines within the city.
However, Orono still has the right to regulate small turbines, and the Nygards aren't off the hook for a nuisance complaint that neighbors Peter Lanpher and Penny Rogers brought against them.
The turbine in question has been shut down for months and painted over with an anti-reflective paint, Jay Nygard says, so he doesn't see how it could be a nuisance to anyone.
Apparently that was enough to convince Judge Robiner. In addition to locking down the turbine, she wants the Nygards to cover it with another coat of anti-reflective paint, pay the court $1,000 cash, and post a bond of $10,000.
If they don't comply, one or both Nygards could still go to jail for six months.
Rob Tennant, attorney for a handful of the Nygards' neighbors, fingers Jay Nygard for starting a legal war that's inflamed the city of Orono.
"My clients are not satisfied," Tennant says of Judge Robiner's decision to let the Nygards go free on Thursday. "Mr. Nygard has made their lives miserable for the last five years, costing them close to $100,000 in attorney's fees because Jay Nygard likes to sue them. They want the turbine down."
Tennant insisted on incarcerating the Nygards at Thursday's hearing. Following Robiner's decision, he said the option of jail is still on the table if they don't comply with the judge's new conditions by March 5.
The Nygards' attorney Erick Kaardal called Robiner's decision a slam dunk victory by green energy pioneers.
"Jay and Kendall Nygard stared six months of incarceration in the face today for a greater cause: alternative energies," Kaardal said. "The Nygards' civil disobedience today was in line with the American traditions of Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King."
Strong words in the latest installment of this strange and sad saga of neighbor pitted against neighbor in what may be the most turbine-hostile city in Minnesota.
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