Library filed under Legal from Michigan
Sandstone Creek Solar LLC sought to construct a solar energy facility on 850 acres of agriculture land in Benton Township in Eaton County, MIchigan. The township did not have zoning at the time and relied on county zoning for land use regulation. When it became apparent that the County would support approval of the solar project Benton's Trustees adopted an interim zoning ordinance that permitted small-scale solar energy systems in districts zoned for industrial use and permitted large-scale solar energy systems in industrial districts by special use permit. Sandstone Creek and landowner, Gary Walters, filed a suit challenging Benton's actions. In this decision the court upholds the lower court's decision that found the Benton Township acted lawfully. The full decision can be accessed at the document links on this page.
An Eaton County judge has dismissed a Minnesota-based solar and wind energy company's lawsuit claiming an interim zoning ordinance put in place by Benton Township to block a proposed 850-acre solar array is not valid.
CHARLOTTE – Benton Township voters could decide the fate of an interim zoning ordinance at the heart of a lawsuit filed by a company proposing an 850-acre solar array in rural Eaton County.
The petition claims that the Wheatland Township Planning Commission’s vote on Ordinance 16.25 took place after the meeting had been adjourned, in violation of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. It also alleges a conflict of interest among several Board members, who did not recuse themselves during a later, July 12, 2018 vote to adopt the ordinance.
“If someone got a judgment that windmills contributed to some adverse health effects people suffered, I would think that would be a pretty significant ruling,” said Ross Hammersley, a Traverse City attorney with Olson, Bzdok & Howard who specializes in environmental and real estate law. Hammersley, who is not involved in the case, reviewed some of the court filings for Midwest Energy News.
This important letter by acoustician Stephen Ambrose explains how two separate court decisions, one in Massachusetts and the other in Michigan, together provide clarity on what the minimum protective noise limits should be when siting industrial wind energy facilities. Mr. Ambrose's letter includes links to the two decisions as well as supporting background information. The content of the letter is shown below. The original can be downloaded from this page.
A federal judge recently dealt a blow to big wind development in a Tuscola County township. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources sued Almer Township in U.S. District Court in February alleging that the township's Board of Trustees had systematically tried to prevent the development of a wind farm.
This important decision by US District Court Judge Thomas L. Ludington addresses two arguments proffered by the wind industry. The first relates to the industry's argument that noise standards for limiting turbine noise emissions that are based on Lmax are not reasonable. The second discusses the argument that restricitve ordinances, in this case an Lmax noise limit, are de facto exclusionay zoning. Judge Ludington takes both claims on and finds the wind company's arguments are without merit. A portion of the decision is provided below. The full decision can be downloaded from this page.
Editor's note: Windaction has been informed by parties in Michigan that this mediation step was ordered and completed more than a month before this article was filed by the Associated Press. No agreement was reached in mediation. Almer Township contends that a permit was denied due to NextEra's failure to meet the requirements in law. A hearing before the court was held in September and the parties are awaiting a final decision by the judge.
To be sure, these results haven’t been reported by mainstream media. But then, the fact that rural communities from Maine to California are rejecting Big Wind doesn’t fit the popular media’s narrative that wind energy is “green.”
The suit seeks to restrain Talaski and Zbytowski actions as planning commission members until the court takes action. Visiting Circuit Judge Kenneth Schmidt decided Talaski and Zbytowski could remain on the board with stipulation of a moratorium that no decision on wind energy development be made until Tuscola County Circuit Judge Amy Grace Gierhart can preside.
The suit essentially claims a systematic effort has been underway to “kill” the planned Tuscola III project, starting with the formation of the Ellington-Almer Township Concerned Citizens (EATCC) group, continuing with the election of several group members last November, and culminating with a one-year moratorium on wind projects and denial of special-land use permit (SLUP) by the board in January. An answer hasn’t been filed to the complaint as of press time.
Almer Township and its Board of Trustees face a federal lawsuit by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC over a proposed wind energy development. Tuscola Wind III LLC is seeking a court order to compel the township, located north of Caro, to allow development of a wind farm to proceed.
The suit essentially claims a systematic effort has been underway to “kill” the planned Tuscola III project, starting with the formation of the Ellington-Almer Township Concerned Citizens (EATCC) group, continuing with the election of several group members last November, and culminating with a one-year moratorium on wind projects and denial of special-land use permit (SLUP) by the board in January.
Attempts by Heritage Sustainable Energy to build a second wind farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have stalled because the company skipped essential paperwork. That’s why the state Court of Appeals refused to clear the way for the Traverse City-based company to build a controversial 42-turbine wind farm in Schoolcraft County’s Inwood Township. Heritage intended to start with 18 turbines and work up to 42.
Members of the Ellington Township Board of Trustees took no action Tuesday night when several residents, along with a lawyer, urged them to toughen a township zoning ordinance regarding wind turbines – or face a lawsuit.
With Consumers’ new petitions, the assessed tax value of “most, if not all” wind turbines in Tuscola County are being contested by the wind energy companies, said Mike Hoagland, controller, Tuscola County. “We’re frustrated,” said Hoagland. “If we lose the dispute, we have to have the money set aside to pay it back.
A Sanilac County judge will not force a township planning commission to hold a public hearing this summer on a wind company’s special land use application. Exelon had filed the complaint 10 days after the planning commission voted to table a public hearing on Exelon’s application for a special land use permit for its planned development, Michigan Wind 3.
Judge Teeple said he didn't feel that the plaintiff had been denied due process and denied the request from Excelon Wind. There was applause in the packed courtroom when the Teeple announced his decision during Monday's civil docket.
Last Thursday, Michigan Wind 3, owned by Exelon Generation, filed the civil complaint against the township supervisor, planning commission chairman and clerk, claiming the postponement is illegal. The company is asking for an immediate ruling by the circuit court judge, ordering the township to hold the June 14 hearing.