Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Michigan
Currently, the county's ordinance sets a maximum noise level of 35 decibels for wind energy systems as measured at the property line of the generator's site. Proposed changes would increase that noise level to 40 decibels in areas with most zoning classifications -- other than farm-forest 2, a rural zone with relatively low allowable building density where the limit would remain at 35. "Higher-intensity uses typically have higher sound associated with them," said Doernenburg.
John McGraw, a Troy lawyer who spoke on behalf of the townships during Tuesday's hearing, said the attorneys for both sides will try to determine "over the next few days" if the project can go forward and whether Forest Hill Energy would even have to apply for a license.
Turbines must be 2,000 feet from non-participating property owners' homes and three times the turbine height from non-participating property lines. ...In terms of sound for Paris, there will be an allowance of 35 decibels during the day and 30 at night for non-leased property, and 40 during the day and 35 at night for leased property.
When taken in total the restrictions make it highly unlikely that a commercial wind energy conversion system could set up operation in Marshall County.
"With the instability, uncertainty and lack of direction related to the issues pertaining to wind energy throughout the State, the Huron County Board of Commissioners will not schedule any additional wind turbine action on the Board's agenda until there is resolution to these issues," the letter states.
The Akron Township Planning Commission and also the Fairgrove Planning Commission each held a hearing this week on NextEra Energy Resources' proposed "Tuscola Wind II" development in those two townships.
In January, the company cleared one regulatory hurdle when it received a land-use permit from Clinton County. But in the months prior, each of the three townships passed ordinances that could hinder Forest Hill's efforts to begin construction before the end of the year.
County officials have been looking at what revisions might be needed to its 2009 wind energy systems ordinance -- capping wind turbine sound at 35 decibels -- to be defendable in court. Turbine developers have called the limit "exclusionary zoning" that essentially eliminates energy systems, compared to the 55-decibel state of Michigan guideline.
The changes to the wind project ordinance were brought to a special election after township residents filed a petition to have the changes put up for a vote with a referendum. Alan Jon Burrell, Reading Township supervisor said the special election will give everyone in Reading Township to weigh in on the wind farm ordinance.
Bengal Township has joined the list of local governments imposing stricter wind turbine ordinances than current Clinton County regulations. In a 5-0 vote during a special meeting Thursday night, the Bengal Township Board of Trustees joined Dallas and Essex townships in approving a more restrictive measure.
About 150 people filled the township hall for the reconsideration of the ordinance by board members who had declined, on a vote of two in favor and three against, to approve virtually the same ordinance two weeks earlier. The ordinance restricts wind turbines to a height that developers say is not feasible for their 40-tower project.
For four years, the developers of a $123 million, Clinton County wind-turbine farm have steered the project through opposition from some residents who learned their homes and property could be subject to the noise, ice throws, flickering shadows and financial impacts of 40 whirling towers each standing 427 feet tall.
Seneca Township voters will decide Aug. 7 whether to keep a wind energy ordinance unanimously approved by the township board of trustees in March. The ordinance prescribes rules for wind energy turbines such as how far the turbines would have to be set back from dwellings and what sound levels would be allowed.
A resolution to OK a wind energy overlay district for DTE Energy in Section 13 of McKinley Township could still gain approval of the Huron County Board of Commissioners. That's only if at least one of the three commissioners who voted against the district brings the resolution back to the table.
"Bob (Smith), we will not be entering into negotiations with you. T.L. (Bushey), Chandler Township is not interested in a 425 agreement with Lake (Township)," said Renn, which prompted applause from some audience members, and others to storm out of the room.
Lake Township Board Trustee Dale Hartsell said he thinks it would be best to take a second look at the zoning ordinance before agreeing to the land transfer. "I'd like to keep our land in Lake Township and try to work on the ordinance some more to see if we can come up with something everyone can agree on," he said.
A 4-25 agreement is not annexation, as it is only for an agreed, specified period, but would put that property under Chandler Township zoning, which has a wind energy development ordinance.
"I hope the Palmyra leadership will take a second look at the state-recommended model ordinance that is in effect in Riga which requires the consent of all the taxpayers in the township, instead of an ordinance like that rejected in Palmyra that effectively causes people to give up their future development rights to outside industrial wind developers."
Palmyra Township residents will vote Tuesday, May 8, on the proposed industrial wind turbine zoning ordinance passed by the township board in October.
The ruling makes way for the 56 turbines planned for Riveron and Summit townships in Consumers Energy's Lake Winds Energy Park to go up as planned. Site-prep work is going on now and turbines, at 476 feet tall, will be erected beginning late this spring.