ARCADIA TWP. — It could be the calm before the storm. News that property owners in Burlington and North Branch townships have signed easement agreements for wind energy development, recent developments have prompted Arcadia Township officials to begin considering a wind turbine ordinance of their own.
Last December Huron County, which has come to be known as Michigan’s wind turbine capitol, put a one-year moratorium on new wind turbines. Still, by the end of the year, Huron County is expected to account for just over 41 percent of the operational wind turbines in the state.
Shiawassee County, which has a wind potential similar to Lapeer County’s, did the same.
Arcadia Township Supervisor John Howell, said he believes the moratoriums in Huron and Shiawassee counties sparked renewed interest in Lapeer County. Although the turbines themselves have been steeped in controversy since the first Michigan wind farm was installed near Traverse City in 1996, with complaints of everything from visual pollution to environmental damage, Howell said his problem is not the turbines, but the transmission lines that follow in their wake.
Howell said that while power companies lease land for wind turbines on a longterm basis which generates annual income, power transmission line companies take land through eminent domain and make a one-time payment. “Your neighbor gets an asset and you get stuck with the collateral damage,” he said.
So far, however, wind turbines haven’t drawn much interest in Arcadia Township. “We don’t have the best wind, but we’re next on the map,” Howell said.
Still, said township clerk Sharna Smith, wind turbines have some residents concerned, but not overly so. Howell said he’s only been approached by one resident who indicated their opposition to the idea.
Howell said after talking to friends across the Thumb region, he’s become convinced Arcadia Township needs to do something before the power companies come looking in the township, not after.
He said he’s looked at a number of wind turbine ordinances and he likes the one enacted by Lenawee County. “It’s a very complete ordinance.”
Howell expects the township’s zoning board will begin the first steps toward regulating wind turbines in the township when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the township hall, 4900 Spencer St. in Lum.