Articles filed under Legal from Michigan
“If someone got a judgment that windmills contributed to some adverse health effects people suffered, I would think that would be a pretty significant ruling,” said Ross Hammersley, a Traverse City attorney with Olson, Bzdok & Howard who specializes in environmental and real estate law. Hammersley, who is not involved in the case, reviewed some of the court filings for Midwest Energy News.
A federal judge recently dealt a blow to big wind development in a Tuscola County township. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources sued Almer Township in U.S. District Court in February alleging that the township's Board of Trustees had systematically tried to prevent the development of a wind farm.
Editor's note: Windaction has been informed by parties in Michigan that this mediation step was ordered and completed more than a month before this article was filed by the Associated Press. No agreement was reached in mediation. Almer Township contends that a permit was denied due to NextEra's failure to meet the requirements in law. A hearing before the court was held in September and the parties are awaiting a final decision by the judge.
To be sure, these results haven’t been reported by mainstream media. But then, the fact that rural communities from Maine to California are rejecting Big Wind doesn’t fit the popular media’s narrative that wind energy is “green.”
The suit seeks to restrain Talaski and Zbytowski actions as planning commission members until the court takes action. Visiting Circuit Judge Kenneth Schmidt decided Talaski and Zbytowski could remain on the board with stipulation of a moratorium that no decision on wind energy development be made until Tuscola County Circuit Judge Amy Grace Gierhart can preside.
The suit essentially claims a systematic effort has been underway to “kill” the planned Tuscola III project, starting with the formation of the Ellington-Almer Township Concerned Citizens (EATCC) group, continuing with the election of several group members last November, and culminating with a one-year moratorium on wind projects and denial of special-land use permit (SLUP) by the board in January. An answer hasn’t been filed to the complaint as of press time.
Almer Township and its Board of Trustees face a federal lawsuit by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC over a proposed wind energy development. Tuscola Wind III LLC is seeking a court order to compel the township, located north of Caro, to allow development of a wind farm to proceed.
The suit essentially claims a systematic effort has been underway to “kill” the planned Tuscola III project, starting with the formation of the Ellington-Almer Township Concerned Citizens (EATCC) group, continuing with the election of several group members last November, and culminating with a one-year moratorium on wind projects and denial of special-land use permit (SLUP) by the board in January.
Attempts by Heritage Sustainable Energy to build a second wind farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have stalled because the company skipped essential paperwork. That’s why the state Court of Appeals refused to clear the way for the Traverse City-based company to build a controversial 42-turbine wind farm in Schoolcraft County’s Inwood Township. Heritage intended to start with 18 turbines and work up to 42.
Members of the Ellington Township Board of Trustees took no action Tuesday night when several residents, along with a lawyer, urged them to toughen a township zoning ordinance regarding wind turbines – or face a lawsuit.
With Consumers’ new petitions, the assessed tax value of “most, if not all” wind turbines in Tuscola County are being contested by the wind energy companies, said Mike Hoagland, controller, Tuscola County. “We’re frustrated,” said Hoagland. “If we lose the dispute, we have to have the money set aside to pay it back.
A Sanilac County judge will not force a township planning commission to hold a public hearing this summer on a wind company’s special land use application. Exelon had filed the complaint 10 days after the planning commission voted to table a public hearing on Exelon’s application for a special land use permit for its planned development, Michigan Wind 3.
Judge Teeple said he didn't feel that the plaintiff had been denied due process and denied the request from Excelon Wind. There was applause in the packed courtroom when the Teeple announced his decision during Monday's civil docket.
Last Thursday, Michigan Wind 3, owned by Exelon Generation, filed the civil complaint against the township supervisor, planning commission chairman and clerk, claiming the postponement is illegal. The company is asking for an immediate ruling by the circuit court judge, ordering the township to hold the June 14 hearing.
A company planning a 68-turbine wind farm in Sanilac County has taken a township to court, demanding its planning commission hold a June 14 public hearing on the company's special land use permit.
Township officials have not stood by waiting for the decision. Essex Township enacted new regulations on wind farms, but did not include restrictions on height, distance and setbacks. Dallas Township enacted an interim zoning ordinance in February that restricts the height of wind energy systems to 380 feet. Bengal Township is also considering a zoning ordinance.
Eleven people and a group representing others who own property are suing Heritage Sustainable Energy and the U.S. government, seeking to block any expansion and require more study on the impact of 14 turbines near the village of Garden in Delta County’s Garden Peninsula, which juts into northern Lake Michigan.
“Schoolcraft County has by exercise of its regulatory power has, by adoption of the Schoolcraft County Zoning Ordinance as amended, completely deprived plaintiffs of all economically beneficial use of plaintiffs’ leases, easements, MET (test) tower, road and GIA (generator interconnection agreement) in Schoolcraft County,” the filing states.
In January, the Garden Peninsula Foundation entered a lawsuit against Heritage, claiming the company commenced operation of 14 wind turbines on the Garden Peninsula in 2012 without first obtaining an environmental impact assessment from a federal or state agency. The complaint also alleged the plaintiffs experienced “negative impacts to their health and well-being, use and enjoyment of their property and diminution in value of their property due to turbines”.
"In the rehearing we will have an opportunity to raise points that the panel may have overlooked or that they need to give more attention to," said Fahey. "From there they may change all or parts of the previous decision."