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Monterey ethics debate continues

Controversy stems from the fact that three planning commission members Karon Knobloch, Earl Collier, and Milton Johnson have signed options for easements with energy companies while the commission works on amending a wind energy ordinance, designed to regulate the construction and use of 450-foot industrial wind turbines.

Debate over state ethics violations with Monterey Township officials continued Monday, June 7, during the public comment portion of the township meeting.

Controversy stems from the fact that three planning commission members Karon Knobloch, Earl Collier, and Milton Johnson have signed options for easements with energy companies while the commission works on amending a wind energy ordinance, designed to regulate the construction and use of 450-foot industrial wind turbines.

Two members of the township board including township supervisor Christopher Reinart and Merle Coffey also have sold similar options.

Resident Pat Roys read a copy of a memorandum obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in which township planner Ken Detloff responds to Reinart; Roys claimed the document proved there was a conflict of interest with the planning commission members.

Resident Pat Keel first presented the letter May 24, and Roys said it represented an under-handed attempt to bypass the no-voting policy for members who have "vested interests."

In the memorandum, Detloff also said "there is, at the minimum, the appearance of a conflict of interest and may indeed be a conflict in fact."

Roys said,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Debate over state ethics violations with Monterey Township officials continued Monday, June 7, during the public comment portion of the township meeting.

Controversy stems from the fact that three planning commission members Karon Knobloch, Earl Collier, and Milton Johnson have signed options for easements with energy companies while the commission works on amending a wind energy ordinance, designed to regulate the construction and use of 450-foot industrial wind turbines.

Two members of the township board including township supervisor Christopher Reinart and Merle Coffey also have sold similar options.

Resident Pat Roys read a copy of a memorandum obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in which township planner Ken Detloff responds to Reinart; Roys claimed the document proved there was a conflict of interest with the planning commission members.

Resident Pat Keel first presented the letter May 24, and Roys said it represented an under-handed attempt to bypass the no-voting policy for members who have "vested interests."

In the memorandum, Detloff also said "there is, at the minimum, the appearance of a conflict of interest and may indeed be a conflict in fact."

Roys said, "Even if there is an appearance of conflict, you're supposed to recuse yourself of any voting. You don't create a zoning ordinance under conflict of interest."

In the memorandum, Detloff also advises Reinhart to divide the special use permits into parts or phases "such that the properties of the two of the four planning commission members who have a vested interest are not included in the specific part or phase."

Reinart denied any wrongdoing and said the memorandum only dealt with how to follow state-mandated policies on special use permit voting procedures.

"When the ordinance was finalized there were three members that had contracts and we could not have a legal vote. I asked Ken when to turn it over to the zoning board of appeals," Reinart said. "But the state of Michigan, when they (wrote the Zoning Enabling Act) in 2006, eliminated the right to send it to someone else on these matters."

The planning commission approved a proposed zoning ordinance for industrial wind turbines Monday, May 24, which has been sent on to the county planning commission for approval.

Some residents expressed frustration that the ordinance still did not meet the community's needs.

Howard Brondyke asked the board why they wouldn't change the 600-foot setback limitation from non-associated property lines because of the "the high percentage" of township residents opposed to the current ordinance.

Township clerk Janice Lodenstein questioned whether opponents would be satisfied with an increase in the setback regulation.

"No matter what numbers you get, it will never be good enough," she said.

According to Reinart, there has been increasing support for the ordinance's 35-decibel limit on the turbines at non-associated dwellings.

"Some people who were originally opposed came back to us and said they approved of it," he said. "Specifically on the sound (issue)."

The township board's next regular meeting will be Monday, July 5.


Source: http://www.allegannews.com/...

JUN 9 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26668-monterey-ethics-debate-continues
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