The Union Township Zoning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to reject the wind turbine zoning recommendations made by the Union Neighbors United group, which was submitted at the last zoning commission meeting.
However, the buck doesn’t necessarily stop there. The zoning commission now must forward the resolution to the Union Township Trustees with a recommendation to reject it. It’s up to the trustees from there.
According to commission member Bill Runyan, if the trustees accept the recommendation to reject, the commission will have to go back to the drawing board. If the trustees decide to ignore the commission’s recommendation and accept the UNU resolution, then the commission’s work is done, as far as wind turbines are concerned.
In order to accept the recommendation made by the UNU, the trustees must make a unanimous decision to reject the commissioners’ recommendation.
Champaign County Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio provided the commissioners with his legal opinion on the UNU resolutions.
He pointed out six parts of the resolution where he felt the language was too ambiguous or restrictive. He recommended the commission reject the proposal.
The commission allowed six speakers to have the floor for up to five minutes each. Three spoke as proponents of the resolution, three spoke as opponents.
Mitchell Smith was a representative who spoke in favor of the resolution. He said that he is not a resident of Union Township, but does own land there.
He said when he and his wife first heard of the turbines, they started plotting out a place on their property for one, until they did research and realized they didn’t want to look at their land and see a turbine on it.
He said that he would rather see a group of a residents work with the zoning commission to regulate the placement instead of an “outside entity deciding our area is a good place for their development.”
He brought attention to the fact the Bowling Green wind farm is often used as an example for the pro-wind turbine side, but said Bowling Green made the project their own. They took the time to research the subject and didn’t let an outside group take over. Also, the BG turbines are owned by the municipality, but that would not be the case in Union Township, he said.
“Wind turbines have their place, but not here in an increasingly residential area,” Smith said.
Ohio Farm Bureau representative Jason Dagger, who farms in Union Township and lives in Wayne Township, spoke against the UNU resolution.
Dagger talked about the OFB’s “25 by 25” plan to have 25 percent of Ohio’s energy production made by clean renewable sources by the year 2025.
He said that farmers have always used the power of wind before, in the form of windmills and such. But now the technology has arrived where real progress can be made.
Dagger did say, however, that the township may not receive the benefits of lower energy costs by having turbines in it. But he said this is a chance for Union Township to be a part of a bigger plan.
Now that the commissioners have made a decision on the recommendations, it’s in the hands of the trustees, who have 30 days to decide.
If the trustees reject the proposed resolution, it is the hope of Julie Johnson, of the UNU, that the zoning commissioners will take the advice of the Logan Union Champaign Planning Commission and work with the prosecutor’s office and township residents and farmers to come up with equally agreeable zoning ordinances.
Tuesday night’s meeting was held at the Champaign County Community Center.
By Shaun Dunlap
The Urbana Daily Citizen
23 May 2007
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