He was denied. He built it anyway.
Now he’s in jail for a really absurd reason.
Jay Nygard is the founder of Go Green Energy. In 2010, he petitioned the city of Orono, Minn. for permission to install a wind turbine on his property. The turbine would stand 29 feet tall and generate energy for his home.
The city denied his permit, but Nygard built it anyway. Fox News reports that Nygard and his lawyer say having a 1.5 kilowatt turbine is a right.
Ok, let’s stop here for a moment. He’s correct when he says he’s within his rights to own a turbine.
And, so far, Nygard is doing nothing more than exercising his right to property. He owns the turbine. He owns the land the turbine will sit on. He owns the house the turbine will supply energy to.
He’s done nothing that requires permission from anyone. However, he doesn’t live in the country. He has neighbors.
Soren Mattick is the lawyer for the city of Orono. He said, “The thing was 2 feet from his neighbor’s property line and 20-some feet tall.”
So what? The turbine is not on his neighbor’s property. It’s near his neighbor’s property. What’s the problem?
“I wish there were a way for you to see the almost disco-ball-like effect into the neighbor’s front yard when this thing spun.”
A lawyer for some of Nygard’s neighbors asked Fox News, “How would you like to open your bedroom window every morning and have a big wind turbine block your view of your lake and the enjoyment of your home and have a strobe-like effect into your home?”
Ok, now we are getting somewhere. Nygard’s actions in installing the turbine allegedly created a visual impact inside the home of a neighbor and blocked a previously unblocked view.
And let’s not forget the noise generated by a wind turbine.
Granted, it’s not speed metal played at top volume, but turbines are a known generator of not just electricity, but noise pollution.
While Nygard has a right to own a turbine and install it on his property, he can’t violate the rights of anyone else when he exercises them. Therefore, it follows that the exercise of a right that violates someone else’s shouldn’t be tolerated.
If the turbine is causing a strobe light effect in a neighbor’s house, blocking a view that was previously unblocked and creating a constant noise, it could potentially cause a decrease in the value of the property. The neighbors have a right to protect their rights, including the value of their property.
So the neighbors are well within their rights to demand he take it down.
The city, however, should not be involved. But being a government, it stuck its nose in the middle of things and made things worse.
They passed a city ordinance that basically said
The problem the city had, however, was the state already passed legislation saying Minnesotans had a right to have turbines on their property.
Nygard was in court again on June 4, 2014, and lost. The judge in that case ruled in favor of Nygard’s neighbors and ordered the turbine removed. He eventually took it down.
So why is he in jail?
Because he didn’t removed the turbine’s footing, a four-by-four foot cement pad sitting right next to his home’s 95-year-old foundation. Three different engineers, including one that contracts with the city, said removing the pad could damage the foundation.
Remember, this wasn’t about the concrete pad. This was about noise and light pollution and possible property value losses. The concrete pad could be covered with soil or hidden by landscaping. Its presence didn’t impact the neighbors at all.
That didn’t matter to the powers that be. Remove it or go to jail.
“He was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail. Tonight will be night No. 4 in jail” ,” Kendall Nygard told Fox News on Monday.
Mattlick said, “Jail isn’t what the city asked for. The city asked for a court order directing him to take it down. And that’s what the city got… What the court said here was: ‘You’re not doing what I told you to do.’”
The city should have never been involved.
This was a dispute that should have been handled between three entities: the Nygards, their neighbors and the courts.
And in all honesty, it could have been handled between the first two. The Nygards appear to want the world to respect their rights while they ignore how their actions impact the rights of others.
“Hey, I appreciate you wanted to lower your electric bill and lower carbon emissions, but the strobe effect off your windmill just caused my wife to have a seizure in our living room. And that constant hum is driving me insane. I wish you’d have talked with me about this before you put it up. Would you mind taking it down?”
You have a right to do what you want with your property, until it affects someone else’s rights. Then, you are obligated to respect their rights as much as you expect them to respect yours.
Civil society is a two way street.