Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Michigan
It started as a request for a county-wide wind turbine zoning ordinance to battle a proposed DTE wind farm in the four northwest townships.
The Stanton Township Board imposed a nine-month moratorium on construction for a proposed wind turbine project at its meeting Wednesday. Stanton Township Supervisor Marty Rajala said the moratorium would buy time until the township could complete a resident survey gauging their opinion of the Scotia Wind project, which would include 12 575-foot turbines in Adams and Stanton townships near Whealkate Bluff. The board approved sending the survey to every registered voter in the township.
Permits for the proposed wind turbine project in Adams and Stanton townships have been denied by the state over concerns of harm to wildlife, including bat and eagle populations, and wetlands. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Water Resources Division (WRD) determined the Scotia Wind project did not benefit the public enough to outweigh potential impact to wildlife and wetlands at the site.
Dan and Nancy Welke live in Merrill, Lafayette Township, where they say they have one turbine less than 1,600 feet from their home and another one about 2,600 feet away. They say they have been “battling” with DTE Energy and Gratiot County officials for the last year and a half regarding the negative effects of the turbines. Nancy called the ongoing experience “a living hell.”
Township-wide zoning might be necessary to give the township more say over the direction of a wind farm project proposed in Adams and Stanton townships, Stanton Township Supervisor John Mattila said at Wednesday’s township board meeting. Stanton Township has been exploring a police power ordinance similar to that in place in Adams Township. The Circle Power project would include 12 575-foot turbines, four in Adams Township and eight in Stanton Township.
"We are not against green energy, clean energy—any of that at all. We support that," said Erik Benko. "But what we are all concerned is that this company wants to build 600-foot industrial turbines 1,200 feet from our homes. There is a place for this, and it’s away from people."
An estimated 80 people packed into the small township hall in Amble to listen and voice their opinions on wind and solar ordinances during a standing-room-only meeting. Attendees stood up high on window ledges inside the hot and humid building and lined up out the door and down the ramp where loud traffic from M-46 made it difficult to hear.
Following a public hearing that featured a near-constant theme of complaints from area residents over the prospect of wind turbines making their way to this township, a moratorium on any such developments was approved in unanimous fashion.
“I’m here today because I would like to see your community avoid the devastating effects of wind farm development,” said Stevens who became emotional as he spoke. He read a lengthy statement, portions of which he had also previously emailed the Daily News. ...“But the greatest loss is the community and the sense of a better future,” Stevens wrote. “The community-wide hard feelings are thick enough to cut with a chainsaw. I have former friends and relatives I will never speak to again. No one will volunteer for town, school or church events because they wish to avoid uncomfortable interactions. If you ask township officials, they will say everything is great. They don’t want to admit they burned down the town with their greed and ignorance and corruption.”
A Public Hearing was held on June 3, 2021 and there were many from the community that came to express their thoughts on setbacks and the Montcalm County Wind Project.
Developers coming into the county do not have the residents best interest in mind. They have only one thing in mind — profits. Our county leaders need look no further back than the first few years of Battle Creek Landfill’s operations to learn that lesson. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself. If it does, Page County taxpayers may once again spend decades paying off prior mistakes that were touted to bring great financial prosperity to our rural county.
DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP — The kettle has been simmering and bubbling for six months now in Douglass Township.
Despite repeated requests from residents, the Pine Township Board on Monday declined to take any action on placing a temporary moratorium on wind permits, on saying whether they would be updating the township’s wind ordinance or on allowing a spokesperson with turbine concerns to be scheduled to speak at a future meeting.
The Maple Valley Township Board voted 4-0 on Monday night — with new Trustee Benjamin Newell abstaining due to his lease with Apex Clean Energy — to rescind their recently approved controversial wind ordinance, to rescind approval of a ballot question regarding the wind ordinance and to place a six-month moratorium on any wind activity in the township.
An interim zoning ordinance put in place by the Township of Benton blocked the construction of a large-scale solar array, proposed by the Sandstone Creek Solar, LLC (“Sandstone”). ...The court went on to explain that the legislative purpose of interim ordinance is “[t]o protect the public health, safety, and general welfare … during the period required for the preparation and enactment of an initial zoning ordinance,” and for this purpose interim ordinances are allowed to take immediate effect. Such purpose would not be fulfilled if interim ordinances could be automatically suspended upon the filing of a referendum petition.
“A close look should be taken at all of those concerns,” he said. “I’d like to assure everybody that no construction can begin without a special use permit and ultimately a zoning permit. At this point in time, nobody has even applied for the special use part of it. I also agree that the present ordinance could stand some tweaking. The setbacks definitely need a closer look. It does address shadow flicker and decibels and so on — maybe they need to be tightened up.
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.
This useful resource lists a host of protective land use ordinances adopted in different jurisdictions in the State of Michigan for siting industrial wind energy turbines. A sample set of ordinances is provided below. The full list can be downloaded from this page.
DTE filed written objections that the 328-foot height limit as measured from the tip of the vertical blade prevents the turbine from reaching wind resources. It said 500 feet is more typical in the state. The written presentation ...also claimed the regulations for setbacks made it impossible to site any wind turbines on the almost half of the township under a lease.
After over two years of meetings and discussion, the Matteson Township Board on Wednesday night dealt a potential blow to DTE Energy’s plan to install wind turbines in the township.