After a lengthy discussion, an Almer Township Board meeting took a strange turn on Tuesday night when Planning Committee liaison Brian Schriber told the Board he felt they didn't need to enact a moratorium on special use permits for wind turbines as recommended on a 6-1 vote of the planning commission. A motion was made to follow Schriber's suggestion and passed with abstentions from Township Supervisor Jim Miklovic and Trustee Michael Putnam.
The discussion also revealed that Trustee Charles Dennis believes that their planning commission, “Can't do anything at their meetings because the whole meeting is public comment. I guess what I'm saying is the moratorium, if we put some kind of moratorium on, are they still going to be bombarded?” He also said, “We've given the public adequate time to voice their opinion. We've been listening to both sides and I feel as though there's no reason for no moratorium, as far as I'm concerned.”
Schriber said, “We hear the same thing we've heard for the last five meetings. It doesn't change. It doesn't become any more factual. I don't understand what's going to change when we send it back to the planning commission for another six months of investigation. It's like a snipe hunt to me, in all honesty.”
Those remarks by the Board only served to spark further public comment at the end of the meeting regarding board responsibility to its residents and the nature of the Open Meetings Act. Attorney Josh Nolan, who represents Almer Township resident Jim Tussey, stated, “You're elected to represent them, not to represent the Fortune 500 company sitting in the front row, notably. It's absolutely offensive that you're going to blame your citizens for getting involved in local government. That's the whole purpose of our system.”
The matter will now be referred back to the planning commission for further work on an updated ordinance. Their next meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 4th at 7pm at the Almer Township Hall unless moved to a larger location due to an expected large crowd. Check the township website for details as the meeting date approaches.