MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A popular organic dairy in Scott County is closing its doors after a major power line project skirted the property.
The owners of Cedar Summit Dairy won a district court lawsuit that required a power consortium to buy the farm.READ MORE: Undefeated Gophers Getting Along Just Fine Under Ben Johnson
The CapX2020 project is constructing huge transmission towers to move electricity across the upper Midwest.
But to do that, the companies had to purchase easements with property owners along the paths. But for some of the properties, a state law required the utilities to buy the properties outright.
For the past 13 years, its organic dairy products were a hit with the Whole Foods crowd. Cedar Summit was a dairy supplier at the popular Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis.
“What we liked about it was that we trusted how they were grazing their cattle and what they were feeding the cows,” Birchwood Café owner Tracy Singleton said.
Singleton is now finding other organic dairy vendors to fill the void. Cedar Summit will stop dairy production on Friday.
“So many people depended on them for grass-fed organic dairy,” Singleon said. “It’s a real loss.”
It all stems from a lawsuit brought by the dairy which forced the CapX2020 utilities to buy the farm. Owners and lawyers for the farm cited a seldom-used law which was put on the books in 1977, back when protesters fought a controversial power line between Buffalo and North Dakota.READ MORE: Vikings Leaning Hard On Justin Jefferson In Quest To Save Season
“If that transmission line comes on someone’s property, eligible property anywhere on that property, even 10 feet on that property, that landowner can say to the utility … ‘Buy my entire property,'” CapX2020 spokesperson Tim Carlsgaard said.
Power companies were fighting the lawsuit, claiming that Cedar Summit was being unreasonable. The line in question intersected just a tiny corner of the farm’s leased land.
But a judge sided with the dairy, agreeing that its organic image would be harmed by the mere presence of the power line.
Carlsgaard says of the 2,000 properties in the entire project’s right-of-ways, only 100 owners took advantage of the law in electing to have the utilities purchase land.
“This is the only place in the country, the only state that offers this, where they can sell us that property or force us to purchase that property,” Carlsgaard said.
The owners of the dairy, Dave and Florence Minar, are barred from discussing the purchase under the terms of the lawsuit.
The $2 billion CapX2020 project includes the cost of buying about $25 million worth of property, in addition to the $160 million in easement payments.MORE NEWS: Source: Cheryl Reeve To Be Next US Women's Basketball Team Coach
The consortium of utilities will recoup some of the cost by selling land they were forced to purchase under the law.