HURON COUNTY – The Residents for Sound Economics and Planning (RSEP), of Ubly, have asked Huron County Planning Commission members to reconsider the county’s Wind Turbine Overlay Zoning Ordinance.
“We’re asking the planning commission revisit the zoning ordinance to avoid future lawsuits … (as) there are many lawsuits going on around the country pertaining to turbine development,” said Angie Weber, the group’s representative, at Wednesday evening’s planning commission meeting.
RSEP commissioned a sound study of three sites in the Ubly area to assess Land Use Compatibility and Community Reaction to the Noble Thumb Windpark Project.
Weber said the study was conducted by Richard James, an acoustics expert who has more than 35 years of experience in Community Noise and a former member of the American National Standards (ANSI) Noise S12 Working group that oversees ANSI Standards for Community Noise.
She said the study found the data collected by developers regarding the sound levels in the Ubly area are inaccurate and inadequate.
The study also found Huron County needs to promptly revisit the current zoning ordinances before any turbines are erected to protect the residents of the county, she said.
Weber said if turbines are erected based on the current zoning, the probability of community dissatisfaction and lawsuits is high.
She said the study also found further testing of the soundscape of rural Huron County needs to be done by a third party acoustics expert before “life altering changes to this peaceful community are made.”
RSEP requested the planning commission promptly re-investigate the current zoning ordinances, particularly those related to sound before turbine installation begins this spring.
The group asked that sound level limits be decreased to values appropriate for a rural community to avoid future litigation.
RSEP also said greater setbacks on the turbines should be required, such that the wind turbine noise is within 5 dBA of ambient at the nearest property line. The turbines also should be required to be located in a more concentrated area to minimize the number of people affected by the turbines, Weber said.
The group also asked the planning commission to consider limiting turbines to off-shore sites in Lake Huron located far enough away from the shore to minimize visibility and completely eliminate any concerns about sound.
Russ Lundberg, director of building and zoning in Huron County, said the group’s request is considered information submitted to the board.
“Basically their communication will not appear on a future agenda unless I get a recommendation from a planning commission member for a reconsideration,” he said.
In other business, the planning commission reviewed map information and a plan for the North Van Dyke Corridor Study.
The board also scheduled a public hearing for March 7 regarding a request for Special Use Permit made by Nextel West Corp. to a construct 260-foot high telecommunication tower in Sheridan Township.
Planning commission members also heard from Huron County Memorial Airport Manager Ellen Engler who requested the board create a county-wide airport zoning ordinance.
The board requested to see examples of such ordinances from counties similar in size and demographics to Huron County.
The planning commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 7.
By Kate Finneren-Hessling, The Huron Daily Tribune
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