Library from Ohio
Jefferson Township voters won't get their say March 4 on whether they support the township's recently enacted wind turbine zoning amendment after a legal decision that could open the township to wind turbine development in the near future. The Ohio Supreme Court handed down a 6-1 ruling Tuesday that sided with property owners who challenged a citizen-driven petition to place the zoning amendment on the ballot. ..."It's unfathomable that they can take the rights of the citizens to vote away," he said. "I don't see how anybody could look at this and not be afraid by the way this whole thing was done." But the court said residents must bear part of the burden for not making sure the petition was filed correctly.
In the ruling issued yesterday, the court justices wrote that those who circulated the petitions did not follow proper procedure when filing it. The petition was hand-delivered to the home of a township trustee, who later gave it to the elections board.
Jefferson Township residents who believe the township needs stricter zoning for wind turbines are incensed today over the Ohio Supreme Court's decision to remove a voter referendum from the March 4 ballot. "We filed this petition on time and government officials mishandled our documents," resident Tom Mazurek said. "Why should we be penalized? All we are trying to do is get a very weak zoning amendment passed by township trustees before the voters. I find this very communistic." The high court sided with property owners who challenged the referendum.
While state legislators have no real say in whether wind developers can come into the state, the three candidates for the 83rd House District seat offered their opinions Thursday on what should be done to help improve the situation. ..."The issue arises because of how township zoning works," said Mr. Burke, a pharmacy owner and former Marysville councilman. "That's its weakness and it's why a lot of big corporations pick townships rather than municipalities to do business with. I think the state needs to help townships fill in the gaps. "Working with large developers to design and review plans is not the forte of township officials," he said. "All across the state, it's costing money and headaches and the state needs to aid townships in those kinds of issues."
The Wind Truth Alliance Group hosted a "Meet the 83rd District Candidates" meeting at Tree Links Golf Course Thursday evening. Wind truth Alliance is a local citizen-founded organization established to promote the truth about wind turbines in Logan and Champaign Counties. ...The Wind Truth Alliance Group is working towards responsible regulations for the wind turbines. The group talked about the deficiencies in the current ammendment. There is nothing in the current ammendment to require that roads be restored to preconstruction conditions. The turbine parts are heavy and require heavy machinery to move and install them, which over time will cause damage to roadways.
During Thursday's public hearing of the Union Township Trustees, members of the Union Neighbors United reported that a state level organization, Ohio Wind Working Group, would come out, publicly, with statewide recommendations for the zoning of wind turbines on Friday. According to OWWG representatives, this is not case. ...Diane McConnell, Union Township resident and member of UNU, said her organization attends the OWWG meetings, but is not involved with the decision making because it is not a voting body. "We assumed, with their discussions, they would come up with a resolution," said McConnell. "It looked as if they were going to approve something today (Friday)," she added. "In retrospect, it was naive to expect quick action by a governmental entity. Right now all we can do is wait and see what they do."
The Union Township Trustees voted on Thursday to make Union Township and Champaign County the leading body in Ohio concerning wind turbine zoning regulations. In a 2-0 vote, the trustees voted to approve the Union Township Zoning Commission's recommendation to accept its own wind turbine zoning resolution. Trustee President Doug Hurst abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest, making Howard Peters and James Virts the deciding trustees. The two also voted unanimously to approve the commission's recommendation to reject a zoning proposal crafted by Union Neighbors United. ...There are four major points of concern the UNU has with the zoning recommendations approved by the trustees. "The 1,000-foot setback from your home is unsafe and an arbitrary figure with no basis in science," ...The fact that there is no noise testing required ...The height limit also presented a problem for the UNU. According to McConnell, 500 feet is the height for offshore wind farms and shouldn't be used on land.
The Logan County Wind Power Committee continues to make progress in its efforts to draw up recommendations for township wind turbine zoning ordinances. But it may not be fast enough for some residents who want to make sure the towering structures do not begin going up on nearby properties without assurances they are safe. “This is the first time they have had an in-depth discussion on any real issues,” Jefferson Township resident Linda Mazurek said after the committee discussed noise issues Wednesday morning. “But I don’t know that we are a lot further along than we were six months ago. It’s been long enough to get recommendations and keep this going.” The committee was formed last spring by county and township officials, the Logan- Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission and representatives of wind power companies. They had hoped to have guidelines for wind turbines in place by early this year, Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman said.
Union Township trustees will have two issues to vote on at the Jan. 17 public hearing concerning wind turbine proposals. The meeting will be at 7 p.m in the Champaign County Community Center. Union Township Trustee President Doug Hurst said there will be no limit to the number of people who can speak, but each speaker will be limited to five minutes. According to Champaign County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Scott Schockling, the first issue is to vote on the Union Township Zoning Commission's recommendation to accept wind turbine regulations crafted by the zoning commission. The second issue is to vote on the zoning commission's recommendation to reject wind turbine regulations crafted by Union Neighbors United.
The Ohio Supreme Court will have the final say on whether Jefferson Township voters get to decide if they want to keep the township's recently approved wind turbine amendment to the zoning ordinance. The amendment has survived a gauntlet of legal challenges since it was first approved by the township's zoning board in September. A decision in favor of the prowind property owners who filed the Supreme Court challenge on Wednesday would be the final stroke in making the zoning amendment official. The opposite ruling by the state's high court would leave the decision up to township voters who go to the polls for the March 4 primary election.
Lake Erie winds are the strongest recorded anywhere in Ohio, good news for city leaders exploring whether Cleveland could be an international hub for offshore wind power. ...The GEO report "lays the foundation" for the 13-month feasibility study that is to begin shortly, Oyaski said. The study was recommended by the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, composed of city, county, corporate and nonprofit leaders who believe Cleveland has the wind and manufacturing capacity to be a leading player in the fledgling market for offshore wind energy. There are few wind turbines operating on the world's waters, and none in fresh water, officials say.
The battle over wind energy is heating up again in western Ohio. A decision by the Logan County Board of Elections on Friday cleared the way for a referendum on a township zoning amendment that sets guidelines for wind turbines. Landowners say the regulations, approved in the fall by the Jefferson Township zoning board and township trustees, are too lenient. They gathered enough signatures to put the issue before voters on the March 4 ballot. But late last month, attorneys representing the landowners who plan to erect the wind turbines --- towering structures that harness the power of the wind to produce energy --- filed a protest based on procedural errors with the petition.
Cuyahoga County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $1 million contract to study whether winds off of Lake Erie can provide Northeast Ohio with power and jobs. The project will help determine the cost-effectiveness, funding sources and benefits of building up to 10 wind turbines off the shore of downtown Cleveland. The goal is to generate up to 20 megawatts of power for the city and county. That's enough power for 6,000 homes.
Jefferson Township voters may get a say on how they feel about the township’s current wind turbine zoning ordinance if a Friday decision of the Logan County Election Board withstands any other legal challenges. Following a three-hour public hearing, Election Board Chairwoman Ann Beck read a two-page written decision in which the board rejected a challenge by township landowners to the issue being placed on the March 4 ballot. “I think they found the only way they could,” township resident and wind turbine opponent Keith Nason said. “Now the voters will get to have their say as they should.”
Jefferson Township voters may not get to decide whether they like the new wind turbine zoning ordinance after a group of pro-wind landowners challenged a petition to place the issue on the March ballot. Lawyers on Wednesday filed a ninepage motion asking the Logan County Board of Elections to nullify a petition containing the names of hundreds of voters because of errors in how it was submitted. Residents circulated the petition following the township trustees' failure on Sept. 19 to override a zoning resolution proposed by the wind proponents. Susan Reames, who lives on County Road 5 and helped circulate the petitions, said she believes there needs to be more community input into the final ordinance.
"The next year is crucial - that's when we'll know if this will work for us or not," said county Prosecutor Bill Mason, head of a local task force pushing the proposal. "But we also understand that there's always going to be some skepticism, so we want to give the public a realistic view they can support." Wind-power skeptics have questioned whether anchoring turbines in fresh water would be particularly difficult because of Lake Erie's winter ice. Some environmentalists have decried siting wind turbines in migratory bird lanes.
Wind energy development projects, like the wind turbine power projects slated for Champaign County, will not be immediately deterred despite President Bush signing legislation Wednesday that omits tax breaks for renewable energy resources. Everpower Renewables, a New York-based wind energy developer, hopes other opportunities will become available after the president signed the bill that did not renew a production credit for renewable energy ..."Without those available, it would definitely change the environment in which we're working," he said, adding that the company had hoped other incentives would have been added if the tax credit was cut.
Comments of support and opposition were voiced Monday night about two proposed wind turbine zoning amendments — one of which was recommended for acceptance and the other for rejection. The Union Township Zoning Commission recommended that township trustees accept a proposal it drafted and reject a proposal submitted by Union Neighbors United, a group of residents concerned about wind energy development zoning issues. "If we put something on the books today it's not an end, it's a start," commission member Steve Bricher said. "Sitting here today, we have no guidelines for (wind turbine) placement."
Inconsistency with regulating wind turbines doesn't end with zoning. The county Building Department requires construction plans certified by an Ohio engineer before it issues a permit; Canton doesn't. The county's requirement could add another $5,000 in expenses because most wind turbines are shipped from outside Ohio or the country and do not contain plans certified by an Ohio engineer. "I don't want to stop anybody from building what they want, but it's my obligation under law to enforce the requirements of the code," said Stark Building Official Ed Stetz. He said wind turbines exceed residential standards so they must be regulated by the Ohio commercial building codes that require a professional designer's seal.
A regional advisory board recommended officials wait for more information before amending zoning restrictions to allow for wind turbines to be built in this Champaign County township. The Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission, a West Liberty-based advisory panel, recommended the Union Township Zoning Commission reject two zoning amendments it submitted - one from the commission itself and one from Union Neighbors United, a group of township residents concerned about wind turbine development.