Library filed under Legal from Michigan
A company planning a 68-turbine wind farm in Sanilac County has taken a township to court, demanding its planning commission hold a June 14 public hearing on the company's special land use permit.
Township officials have not stood by waiting for the decision. Essex Township enacted new regulations on wind farms, but did not include restrictions on height, distance and setbacks. Dallas Township enacted an interim zoning ordinance in February that restricts the height of wind energy systems to 380 feet. Bengal Township is also considering a zoning ordinance.
Eleven people and a group representing others who own property are suing Heritage Sustainable Energy and the U.S. government, seeking to block any expansion and require more study on the impact of 14 turbines near the village of Garden in Delta County’s Garden Peninsula, which juts into northern Lake Michigan.
“Schoolcraft County has by exercise of its regulatory power has, by adoption of the Schoolcraft County Zoning Ordinance as amended, completely deprived plaintiffs of all economically beneficial use of plaintiffs’ leases, easements, MET (test) tower, road and GIA (generator interconnection agreement) in Schoolcraft County,” the filing states.
In January, the Garden Peninsula Foundation entered a lawsuit against Heritage, claiming the company commenced operation of 14 wind turbines on the Garden Peninsula in 2012 without first obtaining an environmental impact assessment from a federal or state agency. The complaint also alleged the plaintiffs experienced “negative impacts to their health and well-being, use and enjoyment of their property and diminution in value of their property due to turbines”.
A petition signed by more than 120 people was submitted to Meade Township's clerk seeking a vote on whether areas in the township should be found suitable for wind energy development. The township clerk insisted the wording on the petition was inadequate, thus no ballot vote would happen. The deadline for submitting a petition has now passed. This letter, prepared by Attorney Joshua Nolan, explains Michigan's law on petitions and argues that the town clerk's decision to disqualify the petition was not lawful. A portion of the letter is posted below. The full letter can be accessed by clicking the link on this page.
"In the rehearing we will have an opportunity to raise points that the panel may have overlooked or that they need to give more attention to," said Fahey. "From there they may change all or parts of the previous decision."
LANSING – A proposed $120 million wind-power project has cleared another legal hurdle, bringing electricity production a step closer to reality across rural land in three Clinton County townships.
“The fact that Sen. Walker would put forth a pair of bills that would largely exempt wind developers from local control for the siting of turbines, as well as exempt them from liability for negligent design, paints a clear picture. Wind development is becoming much harder to sell to rural communities. ...wind developers are having a much harder time convincing people that 50- or 60-story tall turbines are scarcely noticeable in our quiet farming communities.”
Terms of the settlement with the first 17 plaintiffs are confidential. The deal was reached over the weekend and entered on the record Monday, Oct. 20, heading off a trial for which a pool of jurors was already assembled in court.
Consumers Energy will defend its Lake Winds Energy Park in 51st Circuit Court starting Monday. ...Attorneys Richard Wilson and Adam Smith will present Consumers’ defense to a six-person jury to be selected Monday morning. Judge Richard C. Cooper explained that the defendants will go forth two by two in part because in conferring with a judge who was set to hear a similar case in the Thumb that it seemed to be the most logical way to proceed.
Clinton County commissioners issued a special-use permit as the townships where the project would be located ceded zoning to the county prior to the project’s approval by the county board. But those townships subsequently passed ordinances that restricted height and other factors for the project.
In his June 16 decision, Judge Richard Cooper denied Consumer Energy's appeal to have the court overturn the county's finding that the wind plant was exceeding the county's established decibel level limits.
Wants reversal of planning commission, ZBA decisions on turbine noise
The Lake Winds Energy Park has been found in violation of the Mason County Michigan zoning ordinance due to noise levels exceeding the permitted levels. The Mason County Planning Commission notified Consumers Energy of the exceedences and the matter is before the Courts. The attached document is the proposed sound mitigation plan. In addition, one of the residents pursuing the court case, Cary Shineldecker, filed a review of the mitigation plan. Both Consumers Sound Mitigation Plan and Mr. Shineldecker's review can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Coooper said the ordinance sections dealing with wind turbines are clear and Consumers helped draft them. “The ordinance is simple: One year after implementation, (sound) would be reviewed,” Cooper said. “If the planning commission accepts that responsibility and looks at results of independent testing, different entities would be able to appear at those sessions and give their input. If they do not, that doesn’t mean that due process was violated, it’s just the zoning process. The plaintiff today fails on the argument that there is a lack of due process.”
A Wexford County judge turned down a motion by the defendants in a wind turbine lawsuit to allow as many as 200 property owners who lease their property to the wind developers to be added as participants in the suit. Several dozen property owners filled one half of the 28th Circuit Court courtroom in Wexford County Tuesday afternoon as a motion to add the property owners as parties to the case was heard by Judge William Fagerman.
The future of a northern Michigan wind farm is in question -- at the mercy of a lawsuit from a local family. The Wiltzer's say infrasound from the turbines have made them ill in a number of different ways, on multiple occasions.
Three townships did not have the authority to enact and enforce the ordinances they passed last year to restrict a $120 million wind energy project, a Clinton County circuit judge has ruled. ...Okemos attorney Bill Fahey, who represented Dallas Township in writing its ordinance said each township has the right to appeal the ruling.
Lawyers for Bengal, Dallas and Essex townships countered, saying the additional restrictions are consistent with the county’s special-use permit and should be allowed to stand to protect the “health, safety and welfare” of township residents. When the arguments concluded, Tahvonen said he wanted more time to read the legal briefs submitted by each side and would rule “in short order,” but not immediately.