Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Michigan
While it's good to prepare for a rainy day, Mundy Township officials are preparing for windy days. Rather, they are preparing for possible wind turbines that someone in the future may want to erect to capitalize on wind energy. ..."It's new technology emerging -- we're trying to be proactive."
Rising electricity costs have many looking for ways to save some cash, including turning to wind power. Before that happens, local governments want to be sure everyone has rules to play by. Summit Township planning commissioners Tuesday said they were trying to "get ahead of the game a bit" by developing guidelines for wind turbines. The commission approved the changes Tuesday.
Hanson said Huron County Commissioner Kurt Damrow submitted a video tape from the June 24 Lake Township Planning Commission public hearing that was held to receive input on the proposed wind zoning ordinance. During that meeting, the board would not allow any discussion regarding taxes or economic implications of wind projects in Lake Township. "I refuse to listen to any economics at this meeting," said Lake Township Planning Board Chairman Louis Colletta during that June 24 meeting.
Wind power may be one of the up-and-coming green energy initiatives, but Genesee County residents might want to think twice before installing their own wind turbines. According to a map on the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth's Web site, 50-meter-tall towers in the county would generate poor-to-marginal wind power, and that's the shortest tower mapped on the site.
People are typically in favor of the idea of wind energy - until they're faced with the reality of gigantic, utility-sized turbines erected in their community. With utilities exploring potential wind power facilities in Ottawa and Allegan counties, a new study will give communities both sides of the blustery subject. ...The study will explore coastal wind energy in Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon and Oceana counties both on land and in water.
"I've got a ton of inventory," said Fonzi, owner of Affordable Green Energy, a distributor of small, electricity-generating windmills in Essexville. "But I can't put them in the air. They're sitting in boxes." That's because, Fonzi says, most local governments in the county haven't passed ordinances governing the installation of "small wind," or turbines that generate up to 100 kilowatts of power and are intended for homes and small businesses.
A public hearing scheduled for tonight to discuss Consumers Energy's requested amendments to the Mason County Zoning Ordinance is canceled. Consumers Energy was requesting changes to wind ordinances. Dennis Marvin and Dan Bishop of Consumers Energy said the hearing was canceled after the company withdrew one of two requested amendments.
While some expressed support for the Lake Township Planning Board's wind ordinance draft discussed during a public hearing Wednesday, others felt the proposed regulations are too restrictive. ..."Lake Township needs to be protected," said Lake Township resident Charlie Henry. " ... I'm in favor of the ordinance ... and I would like to see it supported." Numerous public comment was given during the planning board's more than three-hour long public hearing.
There were windmill-shaped cookies offered as snacks at the Tustin Library last night, but citizens were really hungry for facts about what it was like to have a wind turbine as a neighbor. The meeting was sponsored by a group of landowners and citizens interested in the possibility of wind turbine power in Sherman Township.
Officials said the subcommittee recently formed to address a series of noise complaints the county has received regarding the Michigan Wind 1 development in Ubly will meet every Thursday. ...Damrow said Huron County Environmental Health Director Dale Lipar also was extended an invitation to participate in the subcommittee because this issue has to do with public health concerns raised by the residents who submitted the noise complaints.
After receiving several letters of complaints from Huron County residents over the last several months regarding the effects wind turbines are having on their lives, the county is taking steps to properly address the issues. Advertisement At last week's Huron County Planning Commission meeting it was announced that a committee will be formed that will include commissioners David Peruski and Kurt Damrow, as well as three members from the Planning Commission.
Although no specific project plans have been officially presented by BP Alternative Energy, the results from a 5-year-old wind-test tower on a township farm and a recent push in West Michigan and around the state to develop wind energy eventually could lead to construction of a 100-megawatt farm in northern Muskegon County and southern Oceana County.
Wind power kicks in 0.05 percent of the state's power. In spite of this marginal contribution, there remains a widespread misconception that giant wind turbines, situated in the right locations, are a viable alternative. Unfortunately, big wind farms have prohibitive costs for infrastructure and construction and are inefficient. ...Huge, rotating 80-foot blades catch the wind and are connected by a mammoth driveshaft to convert mechanical power into electrical energy. This is like having a diesel locomotive balanced on a 200-foot pole.
A drafted wind ordinance that's been in the works for more than a year was unveiled Wednesday during a local planning board meeting. But whether all provisions included in the draft will be adopted remains to be seen, as some of the conditions in the proposed ordinance may be interpreted as too restrictive. "We are disappointed with what we heard at the Lake Township Planning Commission meeting regarding the draft wind turbine zoning ordinance," said Matt Wagner, DTE Energy wind site development manager, in an e-mail Friday morning. "While we haven't had the opportunity to review the document in its entirety, it appears that the draft ordinance would make it difficult - if not impossible - to site commercial wind turbines anywhere in the township."
When Otsego County passed an ordinance three years ago regulating the use of wind turbine generators (WTG), the focus was primarily on the commercial or industrial-sized generators ...Otsego County Planning Commission member Mike Mang said a recently formed sub-committee was specifically charged with looking at the use of private, small WTGs.
While Michigan Wind 1 went into commercial operation about three months ago, the park's development, which was headed by Noble Environmental Power, LLC, took about five years. During that time, there were a large number of vocal opponents against the project. Much of the controversy circled around Huron County's wind overlay zoning provision in the county's zoning ordinance that governs wind parks.
Current setbacks in Michigan allow a wind turbine to be constructed only 1,000 feet from an adjacent residence without the homeowners consent. This rule applies to all inhabited structures including schools, hospitals, churches, and public libraries. This distance of 1,000 feet is an arbitrary guideline recommended by the state of Michigan. Some residents who live too close to wind turbines complain of noise pollution and shadow flicker. Health problems and sleep disturbances have been documented in people living within one and a half miles of turbines.
Lake Township adopted a one-year moratorium on wind energy development in March 2008, so the planning commission would have time to study issues dealing with siting, noise effects, health concerns, possible property value decreases and other problems the board fears could arise if not properly addressed in a township ordinance the planning commission has been creating. Colletta said much progress has been made on the creation of a township wind ordinance.
Homeowners in the city now have the ability to generate their own electricity by harnessing energy generated by the wind. However, some city officials say it may take time for people to take advantage of the new ordinance, unanimously adopted tonight by the City Council. "...It creates two classes of wind turbine projects -- one geared toward residential use, the other more toward large-scale commercial projects.
Fruitland Township officials understand that wind energy is quickly becoming popular for personal and commercial use, so it makes sense that the township along Lake Michigan wants to have its regulations in place as soon as possible.