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Clay Banks tables moratorium on wind turbines

After hearing general support for a proposed one-year moratorium on wind turbines, the Clay Banks Town Board tabled action until it can get definitions and an attorney’s review.

People on both sides of the issue gave opinions Thursday, May 31, on a moratorium that will give the town a year to study the cost, health and other impacts of wind turbines. They also expressed thoughts on a proposal by Community Wind Energy LLC to install three turbines as high as 400 feet at two sites in Clay Banks.

The information shared by the town and some residents is biased, said John Hippensteel, 1015 County Highway U. Hippensteel helps customers plan renewable energy systems at his business, Lake Michigan Wind & Sun.

“People have been given a lot of misinformation,” Hippensteel said. “It’s not in the town’s best interest to provide access to an extremely biased Web site. To be viewed as credible, (town board) should be unbiased for the community.”

Hippensteel also submitted a letter from the author of a moratorium report by the Kewaunee County town of Lincoln. The letter stated that the report was misrepresented when it was used as the basis for the petition in Clay Banks.

Kathy Casio, 5495 Hornspier Road, said she was concerned about whether residents have been getting unbiased information on the issue from the town board.

“My concern is the study won’t be unbiased because you’ve pretty much made up your mind,” Casio said.

Dennis and Jeanne Rego 1440 County Highway U, initiated the petition drive, collecting 170 signatures in opposition to the CWE plan. The Regos believed the proposed wind turbine area is too close to residences.

Support for the petitions came, Jean Rego said, because town residents already had heard about the negative impacts seen near a wind turbine area in the town of Lincoln in Kewaunee County.

“Sentiments already ran deep that wind turbines were never wanted, long before the petition started,” Jeanne Rego said.

Chester Berne, 1443 S. Lake Michigan Drive, said he opposed the moratorium because it could prevent some residents from installing small turbines. But, John Fritschler, 1891 Shiloh Road, said the moratorium will give the town board time to digest all the information.

“It’s not aesthetics, it’s not property value,” Fritschler said. “Its health and safety. Facts, not conjecture were being thrown around.”

“We need power and we need to find alternatives to fossil fuel, so let’s take this year to learn more,” said Glenn Parks, 1235 County Highway U.

The board tabled action on a moratorium after Door County Supervisor Bob Ryan questioned whether an attorney had reviewed the proposal’s wording.

“I’m concerned something like this could set us up for legal action,” Ryan said.

Town Chairman Mike Johnson said no one has been asked to review the proposal.

In addition, Jim Stawicki, general manager of Sturgeon Bay Utilities, said the town needs to define the differences between home and commercial turbines.

The issue again will be discussed at the June 14 meeting of the Clay Banks Town Board, said Clerk Jessica Bongle said.

The Door County Resource Planning Committee is scheduled to review a draft of a county wind energy ordinance June 21. The county ordinance is being designed to match state regulations, Ryan said.

“The state has developed a model ordinance,” Ryan said. “If we kept our ordinance, we could be taken to court because it’s more restrictive than the state model.”

By Kurt Rentmeester
Advocate correspondent

Green Bay Press-Gazette

2 June 2007