OWOSSO TWP . - Owosso Township will not be allowing any wind turbine operation to be established in the township, at least not before Jan. 8, 2018 .
Monday, the Township Board approved an ordinance that imposes a year-long moratorium on wind energy conversion systems, giving township officials time to review, adopt and amend local rules relating to wind farms.
"The planning commission will study the issue, and suggest regulations and ordinances so that (the wind farms) do not harm the value of the land people in the township own or harm the people," Township Attorney Lynn Bowne said before the vote. "It's a matter of the health, safety and welfare of township residents."
The vote was 6-1, with Trustee Bob Ardelean dissenting. Ardelean said he was against wind turbines and wanted the moratorium to be "forever."
Previously, on Jan. 9 , the township board adopted a resolution barring wind farms for a year. Monday's move was to strengthen the resolution by making it a township ordinance, Bowne said.
"I think (a moratorium) is a good idea," said Karen Horn , a township resident for 48 years. "What's a year? It's not going to make a big difference. This way we can wait and see where they can put the turbines and how it will affect people."
The township board also approved a motion to ask the planning commission to consider resident Ed Reppick's request to put limits on the allowable noise levels of wind turbines.
The township's moratorium is similar to the moratorium on wind farms imposed by the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners in January, which brought a temporary halt to the controversial Maple Rapids Wind project proposed in September.
Owosso Township has the authority to set its own rules regarding wind farms because, unlike some other townships in the county, Owosso Township has not given its zoning authority to the county but instead makes its own zoning decisions.
The Maple Rapids Wind project, a creation of the Virginia -based Apex Clean Energy company, has been testing the viability of a plan to place wind turbines in Owosso , Middlebury, Rush and Fairfield townships. Numerous landowners have signed agreements to allow towers on their property and others with neighboring property have been offered compensation.
Apex Clean Energy representatives previously said the firm hopes to install 36 to 60 up-to-600-foot turbines across 16,000 rural acres in Shiawassee County - a $200 million investment - creating 120 megawatts of electricity annually, enough to power 32,000 homes.
On Monday, resident Judy Fulkerson said she attended a large meeting in December at which the merits of wind farms were debated by residents, public officials and Apex Clean Energy representatives, and left believing nothing could stop wind farms from coming to the area.
"I got the impression that no matter what we do, we got bought off," Fulkerson said.
County Commissioner Jeff Bartz , who attended Monday's township board meeting, said any wind energy conversion project will have to meet the rules that will be formulated during the moratorium period.
"There is a possibility (wind energy conversion companies) can follow the ordinances and put up the wind turbines," Bartz said. "There is nothing government can do to stop them."