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Riga wind projects draw critics; more meetings set

"We will have as many meetings as you want," township supervisor Jefferee Simon said. "Wind turbine regulations are in the hands of the planning commission." "We are being asked to make decisions on things that will happen in this community," Karg said. "We need to do our due diligence and take advice of legal counsel so we are not set up for lawsuits."

RIGA TWP., Mich. - Meetings are planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 15, and Monday, July 19, at the Riga Township Municipal Building to continue discussions on the future of proposed wind turbine farms in Riga and Ogden townships.

A good-sized crowd came to Monday's Riga Township board meeting to voice opinions on the proposed projects. The crowd was told the process is still in the early stages.

"The planning commission is sitting on the fence trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong on this," said Reg Karg, who chairs the township planning commission. "Thursday's meeting is open to the public and we will have a question-and-answer period with attorneys, and there will be a public comment period after the discussion."

A pair of efforts to locate wind turbines in Riga and Ogden townships to generate power has been under way for more than two years. Leases have been signed, but nothing else has happened besides testing, as nothing in the Riga Township zoning ordinance covers the potential construction of anything like wind turbines, which could be 500 feet tall. Township officials said nothing has been decided.

"We will have as many meetings as you... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RIGA TWP., Mich. - Meetings are planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 15, and Monday, July 19, at the Riga Township Municipal Building to continue discussions on the future of proposed wind turbine farms in Riga and Ogden townships.

A good-sized crowd came to Monday's Riga Township board meeting to voice opinions on the proposed projects. The crowd was told the process is still in the early stages.

"The planning commission is sitting on the fence trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong on this," said Reg Karg, who chairs the township planning commission. "Thursday's meeting is open to the public and we will have a question-and-answer period with attorneys, and there will be a public comment period after the discussion."

A pair of efforts to locate wind turbines in Riga and Ogden townships to generate power has been under way for more than two years. Leases have been signed, but nothing else has happened besides testing, as nothing in the Riga Township zoning ordinance covers the potential construction of anything like wind turbines, which could be 500 feet tall. Township officials said nothing has been decided.

"We will have as many meetings as you want," township supervisor Jefferee Simon said. "Wind turbine regulations are in the hands of the planning commission."

One man noted a lot of rumors and stories - both pro and con - are circulating about the projects. He urged the board to study the issue thoroughly.

"We are being asked to make decisions on things that will happen in this community," Karg said. "We need to do our due diligence and take advice of legal counsel so we are not set up for lawsuits."

Barb Nieman of Riga Township asked if it was possible to get a referendum on the ballot for residents to vote on the proposals.

"There's a lot of people against them and we want to vote on it," she said.

Township clerk Karlene Goetz said the state does not allow such a ballot question.

"You cannot put an opinion question on the ballot. You can only vote if an ordinance has been changed," she said. "We have not enacted any zoning changes."

Several people in the audience spoke against plans for wind turbine projects, which township officials stressed have not been submitted nor approved. Bill Sell read a letter to the board that opposes any such project. He said more than 250 signatures of township residents were on it.

"I'm impressed with the turnout. We will continue to look into it," Simon said. "We are not educated enough (about the turbines), but we are looking into it."

Kevon Martis, planning commission vice chairman, said the planning commission first learned about the projects a year or so ago when people began signing leases with Great Lakes Wind LLC, a local group headed by former Lenawee County Commission chair Larry Gould and J.W. Great Lakes Wind, a Cleveland-based subsidiary of a German energy company.

"Nobody has formally asked us to change zoning," he said. "One of the items on the agenda (Thursday) is a possible moratorium on wind turbines so we can research them."

The planning commission has contracted with the law firm of Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith of Lansing to work on potential ordinances governing wind turbines. A representative of the firm will attend Thursday's meeting.

At the meeting Monday, July 19, officials from Great Lakes Wind LLC will give a presentation on the wind turbine project.

The company is also inviting people to attend a Wind Turbine Day in Elkton on Saturday, July 17. Along with a number of community events, tours of the wind and solar energy farms will be offered.

A pair of meetings in May dispensed basic information about wind energy generation and the turbines that collect the energy. Michigan is considered a prime site for wind energy because of the wind coming off the Great Lakes.


Source: http://www.lenconnect.com/n...

JUL 14 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/27222-riga-wind-projects-draw-critics-more-meetings-set
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