SAND BEACH TOWNSHIP — As NextEra Energy Resources attempts to establish a wind park there, Sand Beach Township has taken action to govern wind turbine noise.
The Sand Beach Township Planning Commission recently introduced amendments to its 2013 wind ordinance, which would limit sound to 40 decibels (dBA) during the day, and 35 dBA and night for landowners who have wind turbines.
For residents without turbines, the limit would be 35 dBA during the day, and 30 dBA at night.
“It would essentially prohibit wind turbines in the township,” said Bryan Garner, manager of communications for NextEra.
“This is like a quiet library outside your house or your bedroom at night outside your house,” Garner added, noting that livestock and barking dogs can make more noise than what the township is allowing.
Township Supervisor Wade Mazure said he expects that the township Board of Trustees will support the amendments.
There was a public hearing last week for the amendments, which were adopted Aug. 22 unanimously by the planning commission.
The township has submitted the amendments to the Huron County Planning Commission for review and recommendation.
The county planning commission can give its recommendation, but has no power over whether or not the ordinance is enacted, said Huron County Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith.
Mazure said the board would likely vote on the issue in November, once it is returned by the county planners.
The county wind ordinance allows 50 dBA during the day for participating landowners, Smith said. At night, it’s 45 dBA.
For nonparticipating landowners, the limit is 45 dBA day and night.
“People who live in a rural (agricultural) area, they don’t want that sound,” said township Planning Commission Chairman Gary Lilly.
He said the specifications for the amendments were taken from the International Organization for Standardization’s 1996 guidelines for noise levels in rural areas, which he said were 35 dBA during the day, and 25 dBA at night.
He said the commission saw “no value” in using the county ordinance.
“We didn’t understand (the county ordinance), and we we’re not going to put something in (our ordinance that) we don’t understand,” Lilly said.
Smith said the county hired a board-certified wind expert to measure sound throughout the county in order to establish the standard in its ordinance.
Gardner said that the commission received some 70 petition signatures opposing the restrictions at the public hearing. There are dozens who have signed contracts, he said.
“We are all for responsible wind development, and we want to work with these townships and the county to make sure they do that, and that includes having responsible ordinances,” Gardner said.
Lilly said the ordinance was not meant to prohibit wind turbines in the township, but that wind developers were expected to keep wind turbine noise within the requirements of the ordinance.