BAD AXE — A wind turbine is under construction where some say it will interfere with helicopter access to Scheurer Hospital.
Clark Ramsey, marketing and public relations director at Scheurer Healthcare Network, addressed the Huron County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
The cement has not yet been poured for the turbine, which is part of the Apple Blossom Wind Park, which is being constructed by Sempra U.S. Gas and Power.
It would be located a half mile north of 142 West and two-thirds a mile west of Caseville Road. The site is adjacent to the hospital.
“The concern for Scheurer Hospital is that this is approximately 3,500 feet from our helicopter pad,” Ramsey told the board. “The reason I am here today is, looking for advice, direction or counsel as to ... what our options are.”
Pilots from Covenant of Saginaw are also concerned, Ramsey added.
He said that according to Federal Aviation Association regulations, aircraft must fly 500 feet above any obstruction, and 500 feet below the clouds.
“When this happens ... it limits our ability to bring in a helicopter for emergency services,” he added.
The pilots are also concerned about jet wash, he said, if the wind is from the southwest, and they are flying into the wind to land.
“They said that the wind turbine would cause issues for them to land,” he said. “So whether it be wind from the northeast, north, southwest or south, this wind turbine would wreak a little havoc on our abilities to use our helicopter pad, and get these people out to the proper health care that they need.”
A local pilot from two miles north of Pigeon took an aerial photo of the site over the weekend. Ramsey provided each commissioner with a copy of the photo.
Board Chair Sami Khoury said someone from the county should reach out to the developer to see about having the location of the turbine moved.
Commissioner David G. Peruski recommended the hospital file a complaint with the Huron County Planning Commission.
Jeff Smith, county building and zoning director, said the FAA has approved the turbine, and it has also received a tall structures permit.
“I’m not so sure there’s much the planning commission can do,” Smith told the board.
The required setback from a hospital is 1,320 feet under the 2010 wind ordinance, under which the project was approved, Smith added.
County Corporate Counsel Steve Allen cautioned the board, as the planning commission and board of commissioners had approved the turbine and site plans.
“My advice to any county person, acting as an agent for the county, (is) that they not walk the county into some kind of lawsuit by interfering with the contractual relationship that exists,” Allen said.
Khoury said the county will draft a letter to Sempra and have Allen review it.